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Full text of "Selected stories;"

yMl ^j ^" 









The girls nmused themselves by walking up and Juwn 
before him.— Madame Husson's Rosier. 



Selected Stories 



BY 

Guy De Maupassant 

Translated and Edited by 

Dora Knowlton Ranous 

VOLUME II 

The Horla, Monsieur Parent, Miss Harriet 
Mount Olivet, Wife and Mistress, 
The Inn, The Fathers, The 
Open Door, Madame Hus- 
son's Rosier, Madem- 
oiselle Pearl 
Mad! 
Etc. 



The Leslie-Judge Company 

New York 



Copyright, 1912. by 
THE NEW WERNER COMPANY 

Akron, Ohio 



SRLF 

n 



N/. 



CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

The Horla 1 

Monsieur Parent 39 

Miss Harriet 82 

Mad ! 112 

Mademoiselle Pearl 15S 

The Farmer's Wife ISl 

A Coward 192 

Mount Olivet 203 

The Flight of Years 241 

The Old Maid 248 

The Tellier House 2G2 

The Parricide 300 

The Fortune of War 309 

Humble Happiness 320 

The Mysterious Groom 329 

The Open Door 338 

Wife and Mistress 346 

The Fathers 3,")7 

The Mountain Inn 3G4 

Madame Husson's Rosier 384 

An Unfortunate Resemblance 409 



111 



THE HORLA 

MAY 8. What a lovely day! I have spent 
the morning lying in the grass in front of 
my house, under the enormous plane-tree 
that shades the whole of it. I like this part of the 
country and I like to live here because I am at- 
tached to it by old associations, by those deep and 
delicate roots that attach one to the soil on which 
his ancestors were born and died, which attach 
him to the ideas and usages of the place as well 
as to the food, to local expressions, to the peculiar 
twang of the peasants, to the smell of the soil, of 
the villages and of the atmosphere itself. 

I love my house, in which I grew up. From my 
windows I can see the Seine, which flows alongside 
my garden, on the other side of the highroad, al- 
most through my grounds, the great and wide 
Seine, which goes to Rouen and Havre, and is cov- 
ered with passing boats. 

On the left, down yonder, lies Rouen, that large 
town, with its blue roofs, under its pointed Gothic 
towers. These are innumerable, slender or broad, 



2 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

dominated by the spire of the cathedral, and full of 
bells, which sound through the blue air on fine 
mornings, sending their sweet and distant iron clang 
even as far as my home ; that metallic sound which 
the breeze wafts in my direction, now stronger and 
now weaker, according as the wind is stronger or 
lighter. 

What a delicious morning it was ! 

About eleven o'clock, a long line of boats drawn 
by a steam tug as big as a fly, which scarcely 
puffed while emitting its thick smoke, passed my 
gate. 

After two English schooners, whose red flag flut- 
tered in space, came a magnificent Brazilian three- 
master ; it was perfectly white and wonderfully 
clean and shining. I saluted it, I hardly knew why, 
except that the sight of it gave me great pleasure. 

May 12. I have had a slight feverish attack for 
a few days, and I feel ill, or rather I feel low- 
spirited. 

Whence come those mysterious influences which 
change our happiness into discouragement, and our 
self-confidence into diffidence? One might almost 
say that the invisible air is full of unknowable 
powers, whose mysterious presence we have to en- 
dure. I wake up in the best of spirits, with an in- 
clination to sing. Why? I go down to the edge of 
the water, and suddenly, after walking a short 
distance, I return home wretched, as if some mis- 
fortune were awaiting me there. Why? Is it 



THE HORLA 3 

a cold shiver which, passing over my skin, has up- 
set my nerves and given me low spirits? Is it the 
form of the clouds, the color of the sky, or the 
color of the surrounding objects which is so change- 
able, that has troubled my thoughts as they passed 
before my eyes? Who can tell? Everything that 
surrounds us, everything that we see without look- 
ing at it, everything that we touch without knowing 
it, everything that we handle without feeling it, 
all that we meet without clearly distinguishing it, 
has a rapid, surprising and inexplicable effect upon 
us and upon our organs, and through them on our 
ideas and on the heart itself. 

How profound that mystery of the Invisible is! 
We cannot fathom it with our miserable senses, 
with our eyes which are unable to perceive what is 
either too small or too great, too near, or too far 
— neither the inhabitants of a star nor those of a 
drop of water; nor with our ears that deceive us, 
for they transmit to us the vibrations of the air in 
sonorous notes — they are fairies who work the 
miracle of changing these vibrations into noise, and 
by that metamorphosis give birth to music, which 
make the silent motion of nature musical — with our 
sense of smell which is less keen than that of a dog 
— with our sense of taste which can scarcely dis- 
tinguish the age of wine ! 

Oh ! If only we had other organs which would 
work other miracles in our favor, what a number 
of fresh things we might discover around us ! 



4 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

May i6. I am ill, decidedly! I was very well 
last month. I am feverish, horribly feverish, or 
rather I am in a state of feverish enervation, from 
which my mind suffers as much as my body. I have 
without ceasing that horrible sensation of some im- 
pending danger, that apprehension of some coming 
misfortune, or of approaching death ; that presenti- 
ment which is, no doubt, an attack of some un- 
known illness, which germinates in the flesh and in 
the blood. 

May i8. I have just come from consulting my 
physician, for I could no longer get any sleep. He 
said my pulse was too frequent, my eyes dilated, my 
nerves highly strung, but there were no alarming 
symptoms. I must take a course of shower-baths 
and of bromide of potassium. 

May 2 J. No change! My condition is really 
very peculiar. As the evening comes on, an incom- 
prehensible feeling of disquietude seizes me, just 
as if night concealed some threatening disaster. I 
dine hurriedly, and then try to read, but I do not 
understand the words, and can hardly distinguish 
the letters. Then I walk up and down my drawing- 
room, oppressed by a feeling of confused and irre- 
sistible fear, fear of sleep and fear of my bed. 

About ten o'clock I go up to my room. As soon 
as I enter it I double-lock and bolt my door; I am 
afraid — of what? Up to the present time I have 
been afraid of nothing. I open my cupboards, and 
look under my bed ; I listen — to what ? How strange 



THE HORLA 5 

it is that a simple feeling of discomfort, impeded 
or heightened circulation, perhaps the irritation of 
a nerve filament, a slight congestion, a small disturb- 
ance in the imperfect delicate functioning of our 
living machinery, may turn the most light-hearted 
of men into a melancholy one, and make a coward 
of the bravest? Then I go to bed, and wait for 
sleep as a man might wait for the executioner. I 
wait for its coming with dread, and my heart beats 
and my legs tremble, while my whole body shivers 
beneath the warmth of the bedclothes, until all at 
once I fall asleep, as if one should plunge into a 
pool of stagnant water in order to drown. I do 
not feel it coming on as I did formerly, this perfidi- 
ous sleep which is close to me and watching me, 
which is going to seize me by the head, to close my 
eyes and annihilate me. 

I sleep — a long time — ^two or three hours per- 
haps — then a dream — no — a nightmare lays hold on 
me. I feel that I am in bed and asleep — I feel it 
and I know it — and I feel also that somebody is 
coming close to me, is looking at me, touching me, is 
getting upon my bed, is kneeling on my chest, is 
taking my neck between his hands and squeezing it, 
squeezing it with all his might to strangle me. 

I struggle, bound by that terrible sense of power- 
lessness which paralyzes us in our dreams ; I try to 
cry out — but I cannot ; I want to move — I cannot 
do so ; I try, with the most violent eflforts and 
breathing hard, to turn over and throw oflf this be- 



6 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

ing who is crushing and suffocating me — I cannot I 

And then I wake up suddenly, trembling and 
bathed in perspiration; I light a candle and find 
that I am alone, and after that crisis, which occurs 
every night, I at last fall asleep and slumber tran- 
quilly till morning. 

June 2. My condition has grown worse. What 
is the matter with me? The bromide does me no 
good, and the shower-baths have no effect. Some- 
times, in order to tire myself thoroughly, though I 
am fatigued already, I go for a walk in the forest 
of Roumare. I used to think at first that the 
fresh light and soft air, impregnated with the odor 
of herbs and leaves, would instil new blood into my 
veins and impart fresh energy to my heart. I 
turned into a broad hunting-road, and then turned 
toward La Bouille, through a narrow path, between 
two rows of tall trees, which formed a thick green, 
almost black roof. 

A sudden shiver ran through me, not cold, but a 
strange shiver of agony, and I hastened my steps, 
uneasy at being alone in the forest, afraid, stupidly 
and without reason, of the profound solitude. Sud- 
denly it seemed as if I were being followed, that 
somebody was behind me, near enough t© touch me. 

I turned around suddenly, but I was alone. I saw 
nothing behind me except the straight, broad path, 
empty and bordered by high trees, horribly empty; 
before me it extended until it was lost in the dis- 
tance, and looked just the same — terrible. 



THE HORLA 7 

I closed my eyes. Why? And then I began to 
turn round on one heel very quickly, like a top. I 
nearly fell down, and opened my eyes ; the trees 
were dancing around me and the earth heaved; I 
was obliged to sit down. Then, ah ! I no longer re- 
membered how I had come! What a strange, 
strange idea ! I did not in the least know. I walked 
off to the right, and got back into the avenue which 
had led me into the middle of the forest. 

J\ine J. I have had a terrible night. I shall go 
away for a few weeks, and no doubt a journey will 
set me up again. 

July 2. I have come back, quite cured, and have 
had a most delightful trip. I have been to Mont 
Saint-Michel, which I had not seen before. 

What a sight, when one arrives, as I did at 
Avranches toward the end of the day! The town 
stands on a hill, and I was taken into the public 
garden at the extremity of it. I uttered a cry of 
astonishment. An extraordinarily large bay ex- 
tended before me, as far as my eyes could reach, 
between two hills which were lost to sight in the 
mist; and in the middle of this immense yellow 
bay, under a clear, golden sky rose a peculiar hill, 
somber and pointed, in the midst of the sand. The 
sun had disappeared, and under the still flaming 
"Sky uprose the outline of that fantastic rock which 
•bears on its summit a fantastic monument. 

At daybreak I went out to it. The tide was low, 
as it had been the night before, and I saw that won- 



8 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

derful abbey rise before me as I approached it. 
After several hours' walking, I reached the enor- 
mous mass of rocks which supports the little town, 
dominated by the great church. Having climbed 
the steep and narrow street, I entered the most won- 
derful Gothic building that ever has been built to 
God on earth, as large as a town, full of low rooms, 
which seemed buried beneath vaulted roofs, and 
lofty galleries supported by delicate columns, 

I entered this gigantic granite jewel, which looks 
light as a bit of lace, covered with towers, with 
slender belfries, to which spiral staircases ascend, 
and which raise their strange heads that bristle with 
chimeras, with devils, with fantastic animals, with 
monstrous flowers, to the blue sky by day, and to 
the black sky by night, and are connected by finely 
carved arches. 

When I had reached the summit, I said to the 
monk who accompanied me: "Father, how happy 
you must be here!" And he replied: "It is very 
windy here. Monsieur!" and so we began to talk 
while watching the rising tide, which ran over the 
sand and covered it as with a steel cuirass. 

And then the monk told me stories, all the old 
stories belonging to the place — legends, nothing but 
legends. 

One of them struck me forcibly. The country 
people, those belonging to the Mount, declare that 
at night one can hear voices talking on the sands, 
and then that one hears two goats bleating, one 



THE HORLA 9 

with a strong, the other with a weak voice. In- 
credulous people declare it is nothing but the cry 
of the sea birds, which occasionally resembles 
bleatings, and occasionally human lamentations ; but 
belated fishermen swear they have met an old shep- 
herd wandering between tides on the sands around 
the little town. His head is completely concealed 
by his cloak and he is followed by a billy-goat with 
a man's face, and a nanny-goat with a woman's 
face, both having long, white hair and talking in- 
cessantly and quarreling in an unknown tongue. 
Then suddenly they cease, and bleat with all their 
might. 

''Do you believe it?" I asked the monk. "I 
hardly know," he replied, and I continued: "If 
there are other beings besides ourselves on this 
earth, how comes it that we have not known it long 
since, or why have you not seen them? How is it 
that / have not seen them?" He replied: "Do 
we see the hundred thousandth part of what exists? 
Look here ; there is the wind, which is the strongest 
force in nature, which knocks down men, and blows 
down buildings, uproots trees, raises the sea into 
mountains of water, destroys cliffs and casts great 
ships on the rocks; the wind which kills, which 
whistles, which sighs, which roars — have you ever 
seen it, and can you see it? It exists for all that, 
however." 

I was silent before this simple reasoning. That 
man was a philosopher, or perhaps a fool ; I could 



10 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

not say which exactly, so I held my tongue. What 
he had said had often been in my own thoughts. 

July 5. I have slept badly; certainly there is 
some feverish influence here, for my coachman is 
suffering in the same way that I am. When I 
returned home yesterday, I noticed his singular 
paleness, and I asked him: "What is the matter 
with you, Jean?" "The matter is that I never get 
any rest, and my nights devour my days. Since 
your departure, Monsieur, there has been a spell 
over me." 

The other servants are all well, but I am afraid 
of having another attack myself. 

July 4. I am decidedly ill again; for my old 
nightmares have returned. Last night I felt some- 
body leaning on me and sucking my life from be- 
tween my lips. Yes, he was sucking it out of my 
throat, like a leech. Then he got up, satiated, and 
I woke up, so exhausted, crushed and weak that I 
could not move. If this continues for a few days, 
I shall certainly go away again. 

July 5. Have I lost my reason? What happened 
last night is so strange that my mind wanders when 
I think of it 1 

I had locked my door, as I do now every evening, 
and then I drank half a glass of water, and acci- 
dentally noticed that the water-bottle was full. 

Then I went to bed and fell into one of my ter- 
rible sleeps, from which I was aroused in about 
two hours by a still more frightful shock. 



THE HORLA 11 

Picture to yourself a sleeping man who is being 
murdered and who wakes up with a knife in his 
lung, and whose breath rattles, who is covered with 
blood, and who can no longer breathe and is about 
to die and does not understand — there you have it. 

Having recovered my senses, I was thirsty again, 
so I lighted a candle and went to the table on which 
stood my water-bottle. I lifted it and tilted it over 
my glass, but nothing came out. It was empty — 
completely empty! At first I could not understand 
it at all, and then suddenly I was seized by such a 
terrible feeling that I had to sit down, or rather 
I fell into a chair! Then I sprang up suddenly to 
look about me ; then I sat down again overcome by 
astonishment and fear, in front of the transparent 
glass bottle! I looked at it with fixed eyes, trying 
to conjecture, and my hands trembled! Somebody 
had drunk the water, but who? I? I without any 
doubt. Surely it could only be I. In that case I 
was a somnambulist; I lived, without knowing it, 
that mysterious double life which makes us doubt 
whether there are not two beings in us, or whether 
a strange, unknowable, and invisible being does not 
at such moments, when our soul is in a state of 
torpor, animate our captive body, which obeys this 
other being, as it obeys us, and more than it obeys 
ourselves. 

Oh! Who will understand my horrible agony? 
Who will understand the emotion of a man sound 
in mind, wide awake, full of common-sense, who 



12 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

looks in horror through the glass of a water-bottle 
for a little water that disappeared while he was 
asleep? I remained thus until daylight, without 
venturing to return to bed. 

July 6. I am going mad. Again all the contents 
of my water-bottle have been drunk in the night — 
or, rather, I have drunk it! 

But is it I? Is it I? Who could it be? Who? 
Oh, God ! Am I going mad ? Who will save me ? 

July 10. I have just been through some surpris- 
ing ordeals. Decidedly I am mad ! And yet ! On 
July 6, before going to bed, I put some wine, milk, 
water, bread, and strawberries on my table. Some- 
body drank — I drank — all the water and a little 
of the milk, but the wine, the bread, and the straw- 
berries were untouched. 

On the seventh of July I renewed the experiment, 
with the same results, and on July 8 I left out 
the water and the milk, and nothing was touched. 

Lastly, on July 9, I put only water and milk on 
my table, taking care to wrap up the bottles in 
white muslin and to tie down the stoppers. Then 
I rubbed my lips, my beard and my hands with 
pencil lead, and went to bed, filled with fearful ap- 
prehensions. 

Irresistible sleep seized me, which was soon fol- 
lowed by a terrible awakening. I had not moved, 
and there was no mark of lead on the sheets. I 
rushed to the table. The muslin round the bottles 
remained intact ; I undid the string, trembling with 



THE HORLA 13 

fear. All the water had been drunk, and so had 
the milk ! Ah ! Great God ! 

I must go to Paris immediately. 

July 12. Paris. I must have lost my head dur- 
ing the last few days ! I must be the plaything of 
my enervated imagination, unless I am really a 
somnambulist, or I have been under the power of 
one of those hitherto unexplained influences which 
are called suggestions. In any case, my mental 
state bordered on madness, and twenty-four hours 
of Paris sufficed to restore my equilibrium. 

Yesterday after doing some business and paying 
some visits which instilled fresh and invigorating 
air into my soul, I wound up the evening at the 
Theatre-Frangais. A play by Alexandre Dumas the 
younger was on the boards, and his active and pow- 
erful imagination completed my cure. Certainly 
solitude is dangerous for active minds. We require 
to be with men who can think and can talk. When 
we are alone for a long time, we people space with 
phantoms. 

In excellent spirits I returned to my hotel. Amid 
the jostling of the crowd I thought, not without 
irony, of my terrors and surmises of the previous 
week, because I had believed — yes, I had believed — 
that an invisible being lived beneath my roof. How 
weak our brains are, and how quickly they are terri- 
fied and led into error by a small, incomprehensible 
fact! 

Instead of saying simply: "I do not understand, 

Vol. 2—2 



14 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

because I do not know the cause," we imagine ter- 
rible mysteries and supernatural powers. 

Jtily 14. Fete of the Republic. I walked through 
the streets, amused as a child at the fire-crackers 
and flags. Still it is very foolish to be merry on a 
fixed date, by Government decree. The populace 
is an imbecile flock of sheep, now stupidly patient, 
and now in ferocious revolt. Say to it: "Amuse 
yourself," and it amuses itself. Say to it: "Go 
and fight with your neighbor," and it goes and 
fights. Say to it : " Vote for the Emperor," and it 
votes for the Emperor, and then say to it: "Vote 
for the Republic," and it votes for the Republic. 

Those who direct it are also stupid; only instead 
of obeying men, they obey principles, which can 
only be stupid, sterile, and false, for the very reason 
that they are principles, that is to say, ideas which 
are considered as certain and unchangeable, in this 
world where one is certain of nothing, since light is 
an illusion and noise is an illusion. 

July 16. I saw some things yesterday that 
troubled me very much. 

I was dining at the house of my cousin, Madame 
Sable, whose husband is colonel of the 76th Chaus- 
seurs at Limoges. Two young women were there, 
one of whom had married a medical man, Doctor 
Parent, who devotes much attention to nervous dis- 
eases and to the remarkable manifestations taking 
place at this moment under the influence of hypno- 
tism and suggestion. 



THE HORLA 15 

He related to us at some length the wonderful 
results obtained by English scientists and by the 
doctors of the Nancy school; and the facts he ad,- 
duced appeared to me so strange that I declared that 
I was altogether incredulous. 

"We are," he declared, "on the point of discov- 
ering one of the most important secrets of nature; 
I mean to say, one of its most important secrets on 
this earth, for there are certainly others of a dif- 
ferent kind of importance up in the stars, yonder. 
Ever since man has thought, and has been able to 
express and write down his thoughts, he has felt 
himself close to a mystery impenetrable to his gross 
and imperfect senses, and he endeavors to supple- 
ment through his intellect his lack of organic power. 
As long as that intellect remained in its elementary 
stage, these apparitions of invisible spirits assumed 
forms that were commonplace though terrifying. 
Thence sprang the popular belief in the supernat- 
ural, the legends of wandering spirits, of fairies, of 
gnomes, ghosts, I might even say the legend of 
God ; for our conceptions of the workman-creator, 
from whatever religion they may have come down 
to us, are certainly the most mediocre, the most 
stupid and the most incredible inventions that ever 
sprang from the terrified brain of any human being. 
Nothing is truer than what Voltaire says: *God 
made man in His own image, but man has certainly 
paid Him back in His own coin.' 

"However, for rather more than a century men 



16 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

seem to have had a presentiment of something new. 
Mesmer and some others have put us on an unex- 
pected track, and especially within two or three 
years we have arrived at surprising results." 

My cousin, who is also very incredulous, smiled, 
and Doctor Parent said to her: "Would you like 
me to try to send you to sleep, Madame?" "Yes, 
certainly." 

She sat in an easy chair, and he began to look 
at her fixedly, so as to fascinate her. I suddenly 
felt myself growing uncomfortable, my heart beat- 
ing rapidly and a choking sensation in my throat. 
I saw Madame Sable's eyes becoming heavy, her 
mouth twitching and her bosom heaving, and at the 
end of ten minutes she was asleep. 

"Go behind her," the doctor said to me, and I 
took a seat behind her. He put a visiting-card into 
her hands, and said to her: "This is a looking- 
glass ; what do you see in it ?" And she replied : 
"I see my cousin." "What is he doing?" "He is 
twisting his moustache." "And now?" "He is 
taking a photograph out of his pocket." "Whose 
photograph is it?" "His own." 

That was true, and the photograph had been 
given to me that same evening at the hotel. 

"What is his attitude in this portrait?" "He is 
standing up with his hat in his hand." 

She saw, therefore, on that card, on that piece of 
white pasteboard, as if she had seen it in a mirror. 

The young women were frightened, and ex- 
claimed: "That is enough! Quite enough!" 



THE HORLA 17 

But the doctor said to Madame Sable authorita- 
tively: "You will rise at eight o'clock to-morrow 
morning; then you will go and call on your cousin 
at his hotel and ask him to lend you five thousand 
francs which your husband demands of you, and 
which he will ask for when he sets out on his com- 
ing journey." 

Then he woke her up. 

On returning to my hotel, I thought over this 
curious seance, and I was assailed by doubts, not 
as to my cousin's absolute and undoubted good 
faith, for I had known her as well as if she were 
my own sister ever since she was a child, but as to 
a possible trick on the doctor's part. Had he not, 
perhaps, kept a glass hidden in his harKi, which he 
showed to the young woman in her sleep, at the 
same time that he gave her the card ? Professional 
conjurors do things that are just as singular. 

So I went home and to bed, and this morning, at 
about half-past eight, I was awakened by my valet, 
who said to me: "Madame Sable has asked to see 
you immediately, Monsieur." I dressed hastily 
and went to her. 

She sat down in some agitation, with her eyes on 
the floor, and without raising her veil she said to 
me: "My dear cousin, I am going to ask a great 
favor of you." "What is it, cousin?" "I do not 
like to tell you, and yet I must. I am in absolute 
need of five thousand francs." "What, you?" "Yes, 
I, or rather my husband, who has asked me to 
procure them for him." 



18 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

I was so thunderstruck that I stammered out my 
answers. I asked myself whether she had not 
really been making fun of me with Doctor Parent, 
if it were not merely a well-acted farce which 
had been rehearsed beforehand. On looking at her 
attentively, however, my doubts disappeared. She 
was trembling with grief, so painful was this step 
to her, and I believed her throat was full of sobs. 

I knew she was very rich, and I continued: 
"What! Has not your husband five thousand 
francs at his disposal? Come, think. Are you sure 
that he commissioned you to ask me for them?" 

She hesitated for a few seconds, as if she were 
making a great effort to search her memory, and 
then she replied: "Yes — yes, I am quite sure of it." 

"He has written to you?" 

She hesitated again and reflected, and I guessed 
the torture of her thoughts. She did not know. 
She only knew that she was to borrow five thou- 
sand francs of me for her husband. So she told a 
lie. "Yes, he has written to me." "When, pray? 
You did not mention it to me yesterday." "I re- 
ceived his letter this morning." "Can you show it 
me?" "No; no — no — it contained private matters, 
things too personal to ourselves. I burnt it." "So 
your husband runs into debt?" 

She hesitated again, and then murmured. "I 
do not know." Thereupon I said bluntly: "I have 
not five thousand francs at my disposal at this mo- 
ment, my dear cousin." 



THE HORLA 19 

She uttered a kind of cry as if she were in pain 
and said: "Oh! oh, I beseech you, I beseech you to 
get them for me." 

She became excited and clasped her hands as if 
she were praying to me ! I heard her voice change 
its tone; she wept and stammered, harassed and 
dominated by the irresistible order that she had 
received. 

"Oh! oh! I beg you to — if you knew what I am 
suffering — I want them to-day." 

I had pity on her: "You shall have them by 
and by, I swear to you." "Oh! thank you! thank 
you ! How kind you are." 

I continued: "Do you remember what took place 
at your house last night?" "Yes." "Do you re- 
member that Doctor Parent sent you to sleep?" 
"Yes." "Oh! Very well, then; he ordered you to 
come to me this morning to borrow five thousand 
francs, and at this moment you are obeying that 
suggestion." 

She considered for a few moments, and then re- 
plied: "But as it is my husband who wants them — " 

For a whole hour I tried to convince her, but 
could not succeed, and when she left I went to 
the doctor. He was just going out, and he listened 
to me with a smile, and said: "Do you believe 
now?" "Yes, I cannot help it" "Let us go to 
your cousin's." 

She was already half asleep on a reclining-chair, 
overcome with fatigue. The doctor felt her pulse, 



20 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

looked at her for some time with one hand raised 
toward her eyes, which she closed by degrees under 
the irresistible power of this magnetic influence, 
and when she was asleep, he said: 

"Your husband does not require the five thou- 
sand francs any longer ! You must, therefore, for- 
get that you asked your cousin to lend them to you, 
and, if he speaks to you about it, you will not un- 
derstand him." 

Then he woke her, and I took out a pocketbook 
and said: "Here is what you asked me for this 
morning, my dear cousin." But she was so surprised 
that I did not venture to persist; nevertheless, I 
tried to recall the circumstance to her, but she de- 
nied it vigorously, thought I was making fun of 
her, and, in the end, very nearly lost her temper. 

There! I have just come back, and I have not 
been able to eat any luncheon, for this experiment 
has upset me. 

July ig. Many to whom I told the adventure 
laughed at me. I no longer know what to think. 

The wise man says: "It may be!" 

July 21. I dined at Bougival, and then I spent 
the evening at a boatman's ball. Surely every- 
thing depends on place and surroundings. It would 
be the height of folly to believe in the supernatural 
on the He de la Grenouilliere, but on the top of 
Mont Saint-Michel? and in India? We are terribly 
influenced by our surroundings. I shall return home 
next week. 



THE HORLA 21 

July JO. I came back to my own house yester- 
day. Everything is going on well. 

August 2. Nothing new; it is splendid weather, 
and I spend my days in watching the Seine. 

August 4. Quarrels among my servants. They 
declare that the glasses are broken in the cupboards 
at night. The footman accuses the cook, who ac- 
cuses the seamstress, who accuses the other two. 
Who is the culprit? 

August 6. This time, I am not rriad. I have seen 
— I have seen — I have seen ! I can doubt no longer, 
for I have seen it ! 

I was walking at two o'clock among my rose 
trees, in the full sunlight, in the walk bordered by 
autumn roses, which are beginning to fall. As I 
stopped to look at a Geant de Bataille, which had 
three splendid blossoms, I distinctly saw the stalk 
of one of the roses near me bend, as if an in- 
visible hand had bent it, and then break, as if that 
hand had picked it! Then the flower raised itself, 
following the curve which a hand would have de- 
scribed in carrying it toward a mouth, and it re- 
mained suspended in the transparent air, all alone 
and motionless, a terrible red spot, three yards from 
my eyes. In desperation I rushed at it to take it! 
I found nothing; it had disappeared. Then I was 
seized with furious rage against myself, for a rea- 
sonable and serious man should not have such hal- 
lucinations. 

But was it an hallucination? I turned round to 



22 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

look for the stalk, and I found it at once on the 
bush, freshly broken, between two other roses which 
remained on the branch. I returned home then, my 
mind greatly disturbed; for I am certain now, as 
certain as I am of the alternation of day and night, 
that there exists close to me an invisible being that 
lives on milk and water, that can touch objects, take 
them and change their places ; that is, consequently, 
endowed with a material nature, although it is im- 
perceptible to our senses, and that lives as I do, 
under my roof. 

August 7. I slept tranquilly. He drank the 
water out of my decanter, but did not disturb my 
sleep. 

I wonder if I am mad. As I was walking just 
now in the sun by the riverside, doubts as to my 
sanity arose in me ; not vague doubts such as I have 
had hitherto, but definite, absolute doubts. I have 
seen mad people, and I have known some who have 
been quite intelligent, lucid, even clear-sighted in 
every concern of life, except on one point. They 
spoke clearly, readily, profoundly on everything, 
when suddenly their thoughts struck upon the 
breakers of their madness and broke to pieces there, 
and scattered and foundered in that furious and 
terrible sea, full of rolling waves, fogs and squalls 
which is called madness. 

I certainly should think I was mad, absolutely 
mad, if I were not conscious, did not perfectly 
know my condition, did not fathom it by analyzing 



THE HORLA 23 

it with the most complete lucidity. I should, in 
fact, be only a rational man laboring under an 
hallucination. Some unknown disturbance must 
have arisen in my brain, one of those disturbances 
which physiologists of the present day try to note 
and to verify; and that disturbance must have 
caused a deep gap in my mind and in the sequence 
and logic of my ideas. Similar phenomena occur 
in dreams, which lead us among the most unlikely 
phantasmagoria, without causing us any surprise, 
because our verifying apparatus and our sense of 
control is asleep, while our imaginative faculty is 
awake and active. Is it not possible that one of 
the imperceptible notes of the cerebral keyboard has 
been paralyzed in me? Some men lose the recol- 
lection of proper names, of verbs, or of numbers, or 
merely of dates, in consequence of an accident. The 
localization of all the variations of thought has been 
proved; why, then, should it be surprising if my 
faculty of controlling the unreality of certain hal- 
lucinations were destroyed for the time being ! 

I thought of all this as I walked by the side of the 
water. The sun shone brightly on the river and 
made earth delightful, while it filled me with a love 
for life, for the swallows, whose agility always de- 
lights my eyes, for the plants by the riverside, the 
rustle of whose leaves is a pleasure to my ears. 

By degrees, however, an inexplicable feeling of 
discomfort seized me. It seemed as if some un- 
known force were numbing and stopping me, were 



24 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

preventing me from going farther, and calling me 
back. I felt that painful wish to return which op- 
presses you when you have left a beloved invalid at 
home, and when you are seized by a presentiment 
that he is worse. 

I, therefore, returned in spite of myself, feeHng 
certain that I should find some bad news awaiting 
me, a letter or a telegram. There was nothing, how- 
ever, and I was more surprised and uneasy than if 
I had had another fantastic vision. 

August 8. I spent a terrible evening, yesterday. 
He does not show himself any more, but I feel that 
he is near me, watching me, looking at me, pene- 
trating me, dominating me, and more redoubtable 
when he hides himself thus than if he were to man- 
ifest his constant and invisible presence of super- 
natural phenomena. However, I slept. 

August p. Nothing, but I am afraid. 

August 10. Nothing; what will happen to-mor- 
row? 

August II. Still nothing; I cannot sleep at home 
with this fear hanging over me and these thoughts 
in my mind ; I shall go away. 

August 12. Ten o'clock at night. All day long 
I have been trying to get away, and have not been 
able. I wished to accomplish this simple and easy 
act of freedom — go out — get into my carriage to 
go to Rouen — and I have not been able to do it. 
What is the reason? 

August 7j. When one is attacked by certain 



THE HORLA 25 

maladies, all the springs of his physical being ap- 
pear to be broken, all his energies destroyed, all 
his muscles relaxed ; his bones, too, have become as 
soft as flesh, and his blood as limpid as water. I 
am experiencing these sensations in my moral be- 
ing in a strange and distressing manner. I have no 
longer any strength, any courage, any self-control, 
not even any power to set my own will in motion. I 
have no power left to will anything; but someone 
does it for me, and I obey. 

August 14. I am lost! Somebody possesses my 
soul and dominates it. Somebody orders all my 
acts, all my movements, all my thoughts. I am no 
longer anything in myself, nothing but an en- 
slaved and terrified spectator of all the things I do. 
I wish to go out; I cannot. He does not wish to, 
and so I remain, trembling and distracted, in the 
armchair in which he keeps me sitting. I merely 
wish to get up and to rouse myself; I cannot! I 
am riveted to my chair, and my chair adheres to 
the ground so that no power could move us. 

Then suddenly I must, I must go to the bottom 
of my garden to pick some strawberries and eat 
them, and I go there. I pick the strawberries and 
eat them! Oh, my God! My God! Is there a 
God? If there be one, deliver me! Save me! 
Succor me! Pardon! Pity! Mercy! Save me! 
Oh, what sufferings! What torture! What horror! 

August 75. This certainly is the way in which 
my poor cousin was possessed and controlled when 



26 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

she came to borrow five thousand francs. She was 
under the power of a strange will which had entered 
into her, like another soul, like a parasitic and domi- 
nating soul. Is the world coming to an end? 

But who is he, this invisible being that rules me? 
This unknowable being, this rover of a supernatural 
race? Invisible beings exist, then ! How is it, then, 
that since the beginning of the world they never 
have manifested themselves precisely as they do to 
me? I never have read of anything that resembles 
what goes on in my house. Oh, if only I could 
leave it, if I could go away, escape, and never 
return ! I should be saved, but I cannot. 

August 1 6. I managed to escape to-day for two 
hours, like a prisoner who finds the door of his dun- 
geon accidentally open. I suddenly felt that I was 
free and that he was far away, and so I gave orders 
to harness the horses as quickly as possible, and I 
drove to Rouen. Oh, how delightful to be able to 
say to a man who obeys you: "Go to Rouen!" 

I made him pull up before the library, and I 
asked them to lend me Doctor Herrmann Here- 
stauss's treatise on the unknown inhabitants of the 
ancient and modern world. 

Then, as I was getting into my carriage, I in- 
tended to say: "To the railway station!" but in- 
stead of this I shouted — I did not say, but I shouted 
— in a voice so loud that all the passers-by turned 
around: "Home!" and I fell back on the cushion of 
my carriage, overcome by mental agony. He had 
found me again and regained possession of me. 



THE HORLA 27 

August 77. Oh, what a night! What a night! 
And yet it seems to me that I ought to rejoice. I 
read until one o'clock in the morning ! Herestauss, 
Doctor of Philosophy and Theogony, wrote the his- 
tory and the manifestation of all those invisible be- 
ings which hover around man, or of whom he 
dreams. He describes their origin, their domain, 
their power; but none of them resembles the one 
that haunts me. One might say that man ever 
since he began to think has had a foreboding fear 
of a new being, stronger than himself, his successor 
in this world, and that, feeling his presence, and not 
being able to foresee the nature of that master, in 
his terror, he has created the whole race of occult 
beings, of vague phantoms born of fear. 

Having, therefore, read until one o'clock in the 
morning, I sat down at the open window, in order 
to cool my forehead and my thoughts in the calm 
night air. It was very pleasant and warm ! How 
I should have enjoyed such a night formerly! 

There was no moon, but the stars sent out their 
rays in the dark heavens. Who inhabits those 
worlds ? What forms, what living beings, what ani- 
mals are there yonder? What do the thinkers in 
those distant worlds know more than we know? 
What can they do more than we can? Wliat do 
they see which we do not know? Will not one of 
them, some day, traversing space, appear on our 
earth to conquer it, just as the Norsemen formerly 
crossed the sea to subjugate nations more feeble 
than themselves? 



28 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

We are so weak, so defenseless, so ignorant, so 
small, we who live on this particle of mud which 
revolves in a drop of water. 

I fell asleep, dreaming thus in the cool night air, 
and when I had slept about three-quarters of an 
hour, I opened my eyes without moving, awakened 
by a confused and strange sensation. At first I saw 
nothing, and then suddenly it appeared to me as if 
a page of a book that had remained open on my 
table turned over of its own accord. Not a breath 
of air had come in at my window, and I was sur- 
prised, and waited. In about four minutes, I saw, 
I saw, yes, I saw with my own eyes another page 
lift itself up and fall down on the others, as if a 
finger had turned it over. My armchair was empty, 
appeared empty, but I knew that he was there, and 
sitting in my place, and that he was reading. With 
a furious bound, the bound of an enraged wild 
beast that springs at its tamer, I crossed my room 
to seize him, to strangle him, to kill him! But 
before I could reach it, the chair fell over as if 
somebody had run away from me — my table rocked, 
my lamp fell and went out, and my window closed 
as if some thief had been surprised and had fled 
out into the night, shutting it behind him. 

So he had run away; he had been afraid; he, 
afraid of me! 

But — but — to-morrow — or later — some day or 
other — I should be able to hold him in my clutches 
and crush him against the ground! Do not dogs 
occasionally bite and strangle their masters ? 



THE HORLA 29 

August i8. I have been thinking the whole day 
long. Oh, yes, I will obey him, follow his im- 
pulses, fulfil all his wishes, show myself humble, 
submissive, a coward. He is the stronger ; but the 
hour will come 

August 19. I know — I know — I know all! I 
have just read the following in the Revue du Monde 
S cientifique : "A curious piece of news comes to us 
from Rio de Janeiro. Madness, an epidemic of 
madness, which may be compared to that con- 
tagious madness which attacked the people of Eu- 
rope in the Middle Ages, is at this moment raging 
in the Province of San-Paolo. The terrified in- 
habitants are leaving their houses, saying they are 
pursued, possessed, dominated like human cattle 
by invisible, though tangible beings, a species of 
vampire, which feed on their life while they are 
asleep, and who, besides, drink water and milk 
without appearing to touch any other nourishment. 

"Professor Don Pedro Henriques, accompanied 
by several medical savants, has gone to the Prov- 
ince of San-Paolo, to study the origin and the 
manifestations of this surprising madness on the 
spot, and to propose such measures to the Em- 
peror as may appear to be most fitted to restore the 
mad population to reason." 

Ah ! Ah ! I remember now that fine Brazilian 
three-master which passed in front of my windows 
as it was going up the Seine, on the 8th day of last 
May! I thought it looked so pretty, so white and 

Vol. 2—3 



30 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

bright! That Being was on board of her, coming 
from there, where its race originated. And it saw 
me! It saw my house, which also was white, and 
it sprang from the ship to the land. Oh, merciful 
heaven ! 

Now I know, I can divine. The reign of man is 
over, and he has come. He who was feared by 
primitive man ; whom disquieted priests exorcised ; 
whom sorcerers evoked on dark nights, without 
having seen him appear; to whom the imagination 
of the transient masters of the world lent all the 
monstrous or graceful forms of gnomes, sprites, 
genii, fairies and familiar spirits. After the coarse 
conceptions of primitive fear, more clear-sighted 
men foresaw it more clearly. Mesmer divined him, 
and ten years ago physicians accurately discovered 
the nature of his power, even before he exercised 
it himself. They played with this weapon of their 
new Lord, the sway of a mysterious will over the 
human soul, which had become a slave. They called 
it magnetism, hypnotism, suggestion — what do T 
know? I have seen them amusing themselves like 
rash children with this horrible power ! Woe to us ! 
Woe to man! He has come, the — the — what does 
he call himself — the — I fancy that he is shouting 
out his name to me and I do not hear him — the — 
yes — he is shouting it out — I am listening — I cannot 
— he repeats it — the — Horla — I hear — the Horla 
— it is he — the Horla — he has come! The Horla 
has come! 



THE HORLA 31 

Ah! the vulture has eaten the pigeon; wolf 

has eaten the lamb ; the lion has devoured the sharp- 
horned buffalo; man has killed the lion with an ar- 
row, with a sword, with gunpowder ; but the Horla 
will make of man what we have made of the horse 
and of the ox ; his chattel, his slave and his food, by 
the mere power of his will. Woe to us ! 

Nevertheless, the animal sometimes revolts and 
kills the man who has subjugated it. I should 
also like — I shall be able to — but I must know him, 
touch him, see him ! Scientists say that beasts' eyes, 
being different from ours, do not distinguish objects 
as ours do. And my eye cannot distinguish this 
newcomer who is oppressing me. 

Why? Oh, now I remember the words of the 
monk at Mont Saint-Michel: "Can we see the 
hundred-thousandth part of what exists? See here; 
there is the wind, which is the strongest force in 
nature, which knocks down men, and blows down 
buildings, uproots trees, raises the sea into moun- 
tains of water, destroys cliffs and casts great ships 
on the breakers ; the wind which kills, which 
whistles, which sighs, which roars — have you ever 
seen it, and can you see it? It exists for all that, 
however !" 

And I went on thinking: my eyes are so weak, so 
imperfect, that they do not even distinguish hard 
bodies, if they are as transparent as glass ! If a 
glass without tinfoil behind it were to bar my way, 
I should run into it, just as a bird which has flown 



32 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

into a room breaks its head against the window- 
panes. A thousand things, moreover, deceive him 
and lead him astray. Why should it then be sur- 
prising that he cannot perceive an unknown body 
through which the light passes? 

A new being! Why not? It was assuredly 
bound to come ! Why should we be the last ? We 
do not distinguish it any more than all the others 
created before us ! The reason is, that its nature is 
more perfect, its body finer and more finished than 
ours, that ours is so weak, so awkwardly con- 
structed, encumbered with organs that are always 
tired, always on the strain like machinery that is 
too complicated, which lives like a plant and like a 
beast, nourishing itself with difficulty on air, herbs 
and flesh, an animal machine which is a prey to 
maladies, to malformations, to decay; broken- 
winded, badly regulated, simple and eccentric, in- 
geniously yet badly made, both a coarse and a deli- 
cate piece of workmanship, the sketch of a being 
that might become intelligent and grand. 

We are only a few, so few in this world, from 
the oyster up to man. Why should there not be 
one more, when once that period is passed which 
separates the successive apparitions from all the dif- 
ferent species? 

Why not one more? Why not, also, other trees 
with immense, splendid flowers, perfuming whole 
regions? Why not other elements besides fire, air, 
earth, and water ? There are four, only four, those 



THE HORLA 33 

nursing fathers of various beings! What a pity! 
Why not forty, four hundred, four thousand ? How 
poor everything is, how mean and wretched ! grudg- 
ingly given, dryly invented, clumsily made ! Ah, the 
elephant and the hippopotamus, what grace! And 
the camel, what elegance ! 

But the butterfly, you will say, a flying flower ! I 
dream of one that should be as large as a hundred 
worlds, with wings whose shape, beauty, colors 
and motion I cannot even express. But I see it — 
it flutters from star to star, refreshing them and 
perfuming them with the light and harmonious 
breath of its flight ! And as it passes the people up 
there look at it in an ecstasy of delight! 

What is the matter with me? It is he, the Horla, 
who haunts me, and who makes me think of these 
foolish things! He is within me, he is becoming 
my soul ; I shall kill him ! 

August ip. I shall kill him. I have seen him ! 
Yesterday I sat down at my table and pretended to 
write very assiduously. I knew he would come 
prowling around me, quite close to me, so close that 
I might perhaps be able to touch him, to seize him. 
And then — then I should have the strength of des- 
peration; I should have my hands, my knees, my 
chest, my forehead, my teeth to strangle him, to 
crush him, to bite him, to tear him to pieces. And 
I watched for him with all my over-excited organs. 

I had lighted my two lamps and the eight wax 
candles on my mantelpiece, as if with this illumina- 
tion I could discover him. 



34 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

My bedstead, my old oak-post bedstead, stood 
opposite to me; on my right was the fireplace; on 
my left the door, which was carefully closed, after I 
had left it open for some time, to attract him ; be- 
hind me was a very high wardrobe with a looking- 
glass in it, before which I stood to shave and dress 
every day, and in which I was in the habit of 
glancing at myself from head to foot every time I 
passed it. 

To deceive him I pretended to be writing, for he 
also was watching me, and suddenly I felt — I was 
certain that he was reading over my shoulder, that 
he was there, touching my ear. 

I got up, my hands extended, and turned round 
so quickly that I almost fell. Eh! well? It was as 
bright as midday, but I did not see my reflection in 
the mirror! It was empty, clear, profound, full of 
light! But my figure was not reflected in it — 
and I, I was opposite to it ! I saw the large, clear 
glass from top to bottom, and I looked at it with 
unsteady eyes ; and I did not dare to advance ; I did 
not venture to make a movement, feeling that he 
was there, but that he would escape me again, he 
whose imperceptible body had absorbed my reflec- 
tion. 

How frightened I was! And then, suddenly, I 
began to see myself in a mist in the depths of the 
looking-glass, in a mist as it were a sheet of water ; 
and it seemed to me as if this water were flowing 
slowly from left to right, and making my figure 



THE HORLA 35 

clearer every moment. It was like the end of an 
eclipse. Whatever it was that hid me did not ap- 
pear to possess any clearly defined outlines, but a 
sort of opaque translucence, which gradually be- 
came clearer. At last I was able to distinguish my- 
self completely, as I do every day when I look at 
myself. 

I had seen it! And the horror of it remained 
with me, and makes me shudder even now. 

August 20. How could I kill it, as I could not 
get hold of it? Poison? But it would see me mix 
it with the water ; and then, would our poisons have 
any effect on its impalpable body? No — no — no 
doubts about the matter — Then — then — ? 

August 21. I sent for a blacksmith from Rouen, 
and ordered iron shutters for my room, such as 
some private hotels in Paris have on the ground 
floor, for fear of burglars, and he is going to make 
me an iron door as well. I have made myself out a 
coward, but I do not care about that ! 

September lo. Rouen, Hotel Continental. It is 
done — it is done — but is he dead ? My mind is thor- 
oughly upset by what I have seen. 

Well, then, yesterday, the blacksmith put on the 
iron shutters and door and I left everything open 
until midnight, although it was growing cold. 

Suddenly I felt that he was there, and joy, mad 
joy, took possession of me. I got up softly, and 
walked up and down for some time, so that he 
might not suspect anything; then I took off my 



36 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

boots and put on my slippers carelessly; then I 
fastened the iron shutters, and, going back to tlie 
door, quickly double-locked it with a padlock, put- 
ting the key into my pocket. 

Suddenly I noticed that he was moving restlessly 
round me, that in his turn he was frightened and 
was ordering me to let him out. I nearly yielded ; 
I did not, however, but, putting my back to the 
door, I half opened it, just enough to allow me to 
go out backward, and as I am very tall, my head 
touched the casing. I was sure that he had not been 
able to escape, and I shut him up quite alone. What 
happiness! I had him fast. Then I ran down- 
stairs ; in the drawing-room, which was under my 
bedroom, I took two lamps and I poured all the 
oil upon the carpet, the furniture, everywhere ; then 
I set fire to it and made my escape, after I had 
carefully double-locked the door. 

I went and hid myself at the bottom of the gar- 
den, in a clump of laurel bushes. How long it 
seemed! Everything was dark, silent, motionless, 
not a breath of air and not a star, but heavy banks 
of clouds which one could not see, but which 
weighed, oh, so heavily on my soul. 

I looked at my house and waited. How long it 
was ! I already began to think that the fire had 
gone out of its own accord, or that he had extin- 
guished it, when one of the lower windows gave 
way under the violence of the flames, and a long, 
soft, caressing sheet of red flame mounted up the 



THE HORLA 7>7 

white wall, and enveloped it as far as the roof. The 
light fell on the trees, the branches, and the leaves, 
and a shiver of fear pervaded them also ! The birds 
awoke; a dog began to howl, and it seemed to me 
as if the day were breaking! Almost immediately 
two other windows flew into fragments, and I saw 
that the whole of the lower part of my house was 
a terrible furnace. But a cry, a horrible, shrill, 
heartrending cry, a woman's cry, sounded through 
the night, and two garret windows were opened! I 
had forgotten the servants ! I saw their terror- 
struck faces, and their arms waving frantically! 

Then, overwhelmed with horror, I set off to run 
to the village, shouting: "Help! help! fire! fire!" 
I met some people who were coming to the scene, 
and I returned with them. 

By this time the house was a horrible and mag- 
nificent funeral pile, a monstrous funeral pile which 
lighted up the whole country, a funeral pile where 
men were burning, and where he was burning, also. 
He, He, my prisoner, that new Peeing, the new 
master, the Horla! 

Suddenly the w^hole roof fell in between the walls, 
and a volcano of flames darted up to the sky. 
Through all the windows that opened on that fur- 
nace, I saw the flames playing, and I thought he was 
there, in that kiln, dead. 

Dead? Perhaps? His body? Was not his 

body, which was transparent, indestructible by such 
means as would kill ours? 



38 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

If he were not dead ? Perhaps time alone has 

power over that Invisible and Redoubtable Being. 
Why this transparent, unrecognizable body, this 
body belonging to a spirit, if it also has to fear ills, 
infirmities, and premature destruction? 

Premature destruction ? All human terror springs 
from that! After man, the Horla. After him 
who can die every day, at any hour, at any moment, 
by any accident, came the one who would die only 
at his own proper hour, day, and minute, because 
he had touched the limits of his existence ! 

No — no — without any doubt — he is not dead 

Then — then — I suppose I must kill myself ! 



MONSIEUR PARENT 

GEORGE'S father, sitting in an iron chair, was 
watching his little son with earnest affection 
and attention, as little George piled up the 
sand into heaps during one of their walks. He 
would take up the sand with both hands, make a 
mound of it, and put a chestnut-leaf on top. In 
that public park full of people, his father saw none 
but him. 

The sun was disappearing behind the roofs of 
the Rue Saint-Lazare, but still shed its rays 
obliquely on that little, overdressed crowd. The 
chestnut-trees were lighted up by its yellow rays, 
and the three fountains before the lofty porch of 
the church had the appearance of liquid silver. 

Monsieur Parent, glancing up at the church clock, 
saw that he was five minutes late. He got up, 
took the child by the arm, shook his dress, which 
was covered with sand, wiped his hands, and led 
him in the direction of the Rue Blanche. He 
walked quickly, so as not to get in after his wife, 
and the child could not keep up with him. He took 

39 



40 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

him up and carried him, though it made him pant 
when he had to walk up the steep street. He was 
a man of forty, already turning gray, and rather 
stout. 

At last he reached his house. An old servant 
who had brought him up, one of those trusted 
servants who are the tyrants of families, opened 
the door to him. 

"Has Madame come in yet?" he asked anx- 
iously. 

The servant shrugged her shoulders : 

"When have you ever known Madame to come 
home at half-past six. Monsieur?" 

"Very well; all the better; it will give me time 
to change my things, for I am very warm." 

The servant eyed him with angry and contemptu- 
ous pity. "Oh, I can see that well enough," she 
grumbled. "You are covered with perspiration, 
Monsieur. I suppose you walked quickly and 
carried the child; and only to have to wait until 
half-past seven, perhaps, for Madame. I have made 
up my mind not to have dinner ready on time. 
I shall get it at eight o'clock, and if you have to 
wait, I cannot help it; roast meat should not be 
burned !" 

Monsieur Parent pretended not to hear, but went 
into his own room, and as soon as he got in, locked 
the door. He was so used now to being abused 
and badly treated that he never thought himself 
safe except when he was locked in. 



MONSIEUR PARENT 41 

What could he do? To get rid of Julie seemed 
to him such a formidable thing to do that he hardly 
ventured to think of it, but it was as impossible 
to uphold her against his wife, and before another 
month the situation would become unbearable be- 
tween the two. He remained sitting there, with his 
arms hanging down, vaguely trying to discover 
some means to set matters straight, but without suc- 
cess. He said to himself: "It is lucky that I have 
George; without him I should be very miserable." 

Just then the clock struck seven, and he started 
up. Seven o'clock, and he had not even changed 
his clothes. Nervous and breathless, he undressed, 
put on a clean shirt, hastily finished his toilet, as if 
he had been expected in the next room for some 
event of extreme importance, and went into the 
drawing-room, happy at having nothing to fear. 
He glanced at the newspaper, went and looked out 
of the window, and then sat down again, when the 
door opened, and the boy came in, washed, brushed, 
and smiling. Parent took him up in his arms and 
kissed him passionately ; then he tossed him into 
the air, and held him up to the ceiling, but soon sat 
down again, as he was tired with all his exertion. 
Then, taking George on his knee, he made him ride 
a cock-horse. The child laughed and clapped his 
hands and shouted, as did his father, who laughed 
until his big stomach shook, for it amused him as 
well. 

Parent loved him with all the heart of a weak, 



42 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

resigned, ill-used man. He loved him with mad 
bursts of affection, with caresses and with all the 
bashful tenderness that was hidden in him, which 
never had found an outlet, even at the early period 
of his married life, for his wife had always shown 
herself cold and reserved. 

Just then Julie came to the door, with a pale face 
and glistening eyes, and said in a voice that trem- 
bled with exasperation: "It is half-past seven, 
Monsieur." 

Parent gave an uneasy and resigned look at the 
clock and replied: "Yes, it certainly is half-past 
seven." 

"Well, my dinner is quite ready now." 

Seeing the storm coming, he tried to turn it aside. 
"But did you not tell me when I came in that it 
would not be ready before eight?" 

"Eight! What are you thinking about? You 
surely do not mean to let the child dine at eight 
o'clock? It would ruin his stomach. Just suppose 
that he had only his mother to look after him! 
She cares a great deal about her child. Oh, yes, we 
will speak about her; she is a mother! What a 
pity it is that there should be any mothers like 
her !" 

Parent thought it was time to cut short a threat- 
ened scene. "Julie," he said, "I will not allow you 
to speak like that of your mistress. You under- 
stand me, do you not? Do not forget it in the 
future." 



MONSIEUR PARENT 43 

The old servant, who was nearly choked with 
surprise, turned and went out, slamming the door 
so violently after her that the lustres on the chan- 
delier rattled, and for some seconds it sounded as 
if little invisible bells were ringing in the drawing- 
room. 

Eight o'clock struck, the door opened, and Julie 
came in again. She had lost her look of exaspera- 
tion, but now she put on an air of cold and de- 
termined resolution, which was still more formid- 
able. 

"Monsieur," she said, "I served your mother 
until the day of her death, and I have attended to 
you from your birth until now, and I think it may 
be said that I am devoted to the family." She 
waited for a reply, and Parent stammered: 

*'VVhy, yes, certainly, my good Julie." 

"You know quite well," she continued, "that I 
never have done anything for the sake of money, 
but always for your sake; that I never have de- 
ceived you nor lied to you, that you never have had 
to find fault with me " 

"Certainly, my good Julie." 

"Very well, then. Monsieur; it cannot go on any 
longer like this. I have said nothing, and left you 
in your ignorance, out of respect and liking for you, 
but it is too much, and every one in the neighbor- 
hood is laughing at you. Everybody knows about 
it, and so I must tell you also, though I do not 
like to repeat it. The reason that Madame comes 



44 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

in at any time she chooses is that she is doing 
abominable things." 

He seemed stupefied and not to understand, and 
could only stammer out: "Hold your tongue; 
you know I have forbidden you " 

But she interrupted him with irresistible resolu- 
tion. "No, Monsieur, I must tell you everthing 
now. For a long time Madame has been carrying 
on with Monsieur Limousin. I have seen them kiss 
scores of times behind the door. Ah ! you may be 
sure that if Monsieur Limousin had been rich, 
Madame never would have married Monsieur Par- 
ent. If you remember how the marriage was 
brought about, you will understand the matter from 
beginning to end." 

Parent had risen, and stammered out, his face 
livid: "Hold your tongue — hold your tongue, 
or " 

She went on, however: "No, I mean to tell you 
everything. She married you from interest, and 
she deceived you from the very first day. It was all 
settled between them beforehand. You need only 
reflect for a few moments to understand it, and 
then, as she was not satisfied with having married 
you, as she did not love you, she has made your 
life miserable, so miserable that it has almost broken 
my heart when I have seen it." 

He walked up and down the room with hands 
clenched, repeating: "Hold your tongue — hold 
your tongue " For he could find nothing else 



MONSIEUR PARENT 45 

to say. The old servant, however, would not yield ; 
she seemed resolved on everything, 

George, who at first had been astonished and then 
frightened at those angry voices, began to utter 
shrill screams, and remained behind his father, with 
his face puckered up and his mouth open, roaring. 

His son's screams exasperated Parent, and filled 
him with rage and courage. He rushed at Julie 
with both arms raised, ready to strike her, exclaim- 
ing: "Ah! you wretch! You will drive the child 
out of his senses." He already had his hand on 
her, when she screamed in his face: 

"Monsieur, you may beat me if you like, me who 
reared you, but that will not prevent your wife 
from deceiving you, or alter the fact that your child 
is not yours " 

He stopped suddenly, let his arms fall, and re- 
mained standing opposite to her, so overwhelmed 
that he could understand nothing more. 

"You need only to look at the child," she added, 
"to know who is its father! He is the very image 
of Monsieur Limousin. You need only look at his 
eyes and forehead. Why, a blind man could not be 
mistaken in him." 

He had taken her by the shoulders, and was now 
shaking her with all his might. "Viper, viper!" he 
said. "Go out of the room, viper! Get out, or I 
shall kill you ! Go out ! Go 1" 

And with a desperate effort he threw her into 
the next room. She fell across the table, which was 

Vol. 2—4 



46 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

laid for dinner, breaking the glasses. Then, rising 
to her feet, she put the table between her master 
and herself. While he was pursuing her, in order 
to take hold of her again, she flung terrible words 
at him. 

"You need only go out this evening after dinner, 
and come in again immediately, and you will see! 
You will see whether I have been lying! Just try 
it, and you will see." She had reached the kitchen 
door and escaped, but he ran after her, up the back 
stairs to her bedroom, into which she had locked 
herself, and knocking at the door, he said: 

"You will leave my house this very instant!" 

"You may be certain of that. Monsieur," was her 
reply. "In an hour's time I shall not be here." 

He then went slowly downstairs again, holding 
on to the banister so as not to fall, and went back to 
the drawing-room, where little George was sitting 
on the floor, crying. He fell into a chair and 
looked at the child with dull eyes. He understood 
nothing, knew nothing more; he felt dazed, stupe- 
fied, mad, as if he had just fallen on his head, and 
he hardly even remembered the dreadful things 
the servant had told him. Then, by degrees, his 
mind, like muddy water, became calmer and clearer, 
and the abominable revelations began to work in 
his heart. 

He was no longer thinking of George. The child 
was quiet now and sitting on the carpet ; but, seeing 
that no notice was taken of him, he began to cry. 



MONSIEUR PARENT 47 

His father ran to him, took him in his arms, and 
covered him with kisses. His child remained to 
him at any rate! What did the rest matter? He 
held him in his arms and pressed his lips to his 
light hair, and, relieved and composed, he said : 

"George — my little George — my dear little 

George " But he suddenly remembered what 

Julie had said! Yes, she had said that he was 
Limousin's child. Oh ! it could not be possible, 
surely. He could not believe it, could not doubt, 
even for a moment, that he was his own child. It 
was one of those low scandals that spring from 
servants' brains! And he repeated: "George — 
my dear little George." The youngster was quiet 
again, now that his father was fondling him. 

Parent felt the warmth of the little chest pene- 
trate through his clothes, and it filled him with love, 
courage, and happiness ; that gentle warmth soothed 
him, fortified him and saved him. Then he put the 
small, curly head away from him a little, and looked 
at it affectionately, still repeating: "George! Oh, 
my little George!" But suddenly he thought: 
"Suppose he were to resemble Limousin, after all!" 

He looked at him with haggard, troubled eyes, 
and tried to discover whether there was any like- 
ness in his forehead, in his nose, mouth, or cheeks. 
His thoughts wandered as they do when a person 
is going mad, and the child's face changed in his 
eyes, and assumed a strange look and improbable 
resemblances. 



48 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The hall bell rang. Parent gave a bound as if a 
bullet had gone through him. "There she is," he 
said. "What shall I do?" And he ran and locked 
himself up in his room, to have time to bathe his 
eyes. But in a few moments another ring at the 
bell made him jump again, and then he remembered 
that Julie had left, without the housemaid knowing 
it, and so nobody would go to open the door. What 
was he to do? He went himself, and suddenly he 
felt brave, resolute, ready for dissimulation and the 
struggle. The terrible blow had matured him in a 
few moments. He wished to know the truth, he 
desired it with the rage of a timid man, and with 
the tenacity of an easy-going man who has been 
exasperated. 

Nevertheless, he trembled. Does one know how 
much excited cowardice there often is in boldness? 
He went to the door with furtive steps, and stopped 
to listen ; his heart beat furiously. Suddenly, how- 
ever, the noise of the bell over his head startled him 
like an explosion. He seized the lock, turned the 
key, and opening the door, saw his wife and Limou- 
sin standing before him on the stairs. 

With an air of astonishment, which also betrayed 
a little irritation, she said : 

"So you open the door now? Where is Julie?" 

His throat felt tight and his breathing was la- 
bored as he tried in vain to reply. 

"Are you dumb?" she continued. "I asked you 
where Julie is ?" 



MONSIEUR PARENT 49 

" She — she — she — has — gone " he managed to 

stammer. 

His wife began to get angry. "Where do you 
mean by gone? Where has she gone? Why?" 
By degrees he regained his coolness. He felt an in- 
tense hatred rise up in him for that insolent woman 
who was standing before him. 

"Yes, she has gone altogether. I sent her away." 

"You have sent Julie away? Why, you must be 
mad." 

"Yes, I sent her away because she was insolent, 
and because — because she was ill-using the child." 

"Julie?" 

"Yes— Julie." 

"What was she insolent about?" 

"About you." 

"About me?" 

"Yes, because the dinner was burned, and you 
did not come in." 

"And she said " 

"She said — oflfensive things about you — which I 
ought not — which I could not listen to " 

"What did she say?" 

"It is no good repeating them." 

"I wish to hear them." 

"She said it was unfortunate for a man like me 
to be married to a woman like you, unpunctual, 
careless, disorderly, a bad mother, and a bad wife." 

The young woman had gone into the anteroom, 
followed by Limousin, who did not say a word at 



50 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

this unexpected condition of things. She shut the 
door quickly, threw her cloak on a chair, and going 
straight up to her husband, she stammered out : 

"You say? You say? That I am " 

Very pale and calm, he replied: "I say nothing, 
my dear. I am simply repeating what Julie said to 
me, as you wished to know what it was, and I wish 
you to remark that I turned her off just on account 
of what she said." 

She trembled with a violent longing to tear out 
his beard and scratch his face. In his voice and 
manner she felt that he was asserting his position 
as master. Although she had nothing to say by 
way of reply, she tried to assume the offensive by 
saying something unpleasant. "I suppose you have 
had dinner?" she asked. 

"No, I waited for you." 

She shrugged her shoulders impatiently. "It is 
very stupid of you to wait after half-past seven," 
she said. "You might have guessed that I was 
detained, that I had a good many things to do, 
visits and shopping." 

And then, suddenly, she felt that she needed to 
explain how she had spent her time, and told him 
in abrupt, haughty words that, having to buy some 
furniture in a shop a long distance off, very far 
off, in the Rue de Rennes, she had met Limousin at 
past seven o'clock on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, 
and that then she had gone with him to have some- 
thing to eat in a restaurant, as she did not like to 



MONSIEUR PARENT 51 

go to one by herself, although she was faint with 
hunger. That was how she had dined with Limou- 
sin, if it could be called dining, for they had only 
some soup and half a chicken, as they were in a 
great hurry to get back. 

Parent replied simply: "Well, you were quite 
right. I am not finding fault with you." 

Then Limousin, who had not spoken till then, 
and who had been half hidden behind Henriette, 
came forward and put out his hand, saying: "Are 
you very well?" 

Parent took his hand, and shaking it gently, re- 
plied: "Yes, I am very well." 

But the young woman had felt a reproach in her 
husband's last words. "Finding fault! Why do 
you speak of finding fault? One might think you 
meant to imply something." 

"Not at all," he replied, by way of excuse. "I 
simply meant that I was not at all anxious, although 
you were late, and that I did not find fault with 
you for it." 

She, however, took a high hand, and tried to 
find a pretext for a quarrel. "Although I was late? 
One might really think it was one o'clock in the 
morning, and that I spent my nights away from 
home." 

"Certainly not, my dear. I said late because I 
could find no other word. You said you should be 
back at half-past six, and you returned at half-past 
eight. That surely was being late. I understand it 



52 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

perfectly well. I am not at all surprised, even. 
But — but — I can hardly use any other word." 

"But you pronounce them as if I had been out 
all night." 

"Oh, no— oh, no!" 

She saw that he would yield on every point, and 
she was going into her own room, when at last she 
noticed that George was screaming, and then she 
asked, with some feeling: "What is the matter 
with the child?" 

"I told you that Julie had been rather unkind 
to him." 

"What has the wretch been doing to him?" 

"Oh, nothing much. She gave him a push, and 
he fell down." 

She wished to see her child, and ran into the 
dining-room, but stopped short at the sight of the 
table covered with spilled wine, with broken decan- 
ters and glasses and overturned saltcellars. "Who 
did all that mischief?" she asked. 

"It was Julie, who " But she interrupted 

him furiously: 

"That is too much, really! Julie speaks of me 
as if I were a shameless woman, beats my child, 
breaks my plates and dishes, turns my house upside 
down, and it appears that you think it all quite 
natural." 

"Certainly not, as I have got rid of her." 

"Really! You have got rid of her! But you 
ought to have given her in charge. In such cases, 



MONSIEUR PARENT 53 

one ought to call in the Commissary of Police !" 

"But — my dear — I really could not. There was 
no reason. It would have been very difficult " 

She shrugged her shoulders disdainfully. 
"There! you will never be anything but a poor, 
wretched fellow, a man without a will, without any 
firmness or energy. Ah ! she must have said some 
nice things to you, your Julie, to make you turn her 
off like that. I should like to have been here for a 
minute, only for a minute." Then she opened the 
drawing-room door and ran to George, took him 
into her arms and kissed him, and said: "Georgie, 
what is it, my darling, my pretty one, my treas- 
ure?" 

Then, suddenly turning to another idea, she said : 
"But the child has had no dinner? You have had 
nothing to eat, my pet?" 

"No, mamma." 

Then she again turned furiously upon her hus- 
band. "Why, you must be mad, utterly mad! It 
is half-past eight, and George has had no dinner !" 

He excused himself as best he could, for he had 
nearly lost his wits by the overwhelming scene and 
the explanation, and felt crushed by this ruin of his 
life. "But, my dear, we were waiting for you, as 
I did not wish to dine without you. As you come 
home late every day, I expected you every mo- 
ment." 

She threw her bonnet, which she had kept on till 
then, into an easy-chair, and in an angry voice she 



54 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

said: "It is really intolerable to have to do with 
people who can understand nothing, who can divine 
nothing and do nothing by themselves. So, I sup- 
pose, if I were to come in at twelve o'clock at night, 
the child would have had nothing to eat ? Just as if 
you could not have understood that, as it was after 
half-past seven, I was prevented from coming home, 
that I had met with some hindrance!" 

Parent trembled, for he felt that his anger was 
getting the upper hand, but Limousin interposed, 
and turning toward the young woman, said : 

"My dear friend, you are altogether unjust. 
Parent could not guess that you would come here 
so late, as you never do so, and then, how could 
you expect him to get over the difificulty all him- 
self, after having sent away Julie?" 

But Henriette was very angry. 

"Well, at any rate, he must get over the diffi- 
culty himself, for I will not help him," she replied. 
"Let him settle it!" And she went into her own 
room, quite forgetting that her child had not had 
anything to eat. 

Limousin immediately set to work to help his 
friend. He picked up the broken glasses that 
strewed the table and took them out, replaced the 
plates and knives and forks, and put the child into 
his high chair, while Parent went to look for the 
chambermaid to wait at table. The girl came in, in 
great astonishment, as she had heard nothing in 
George's room, where she had been working. She 



MONSIEUR PARENT 55 

soon, however, brought in the soup, a burned leg of 
mutton, and mashed potatoes. 

Parent sat by the side of the child, very much 
upset and distressed at all that had happened. He 
gave the boy his dinner, and endeavored to eat 
something himself, but he could swallow only with 
an effort, as his throat felt paralyzed. By degrees 
he was seized with an insane desire to look at 
Limousin, who was sitting opposite to him, making 
bread pellets, to see whether George was like him, 
but he did not venture to raise his eyes for some 
time. At last, however, he made up his mind to do 
so, and gave a quick, sharp look at the face he 
knew so well. It looked very different from what 
he had imagined. From time to time he looked at 
Limousin, trying to recognize a likeness in the 
smallest lines of his face, in the slightest features, 
and then he looked at his son, under the pretext of 
feeding him. 

Two words were sounding in his ears: "His 
father! his father! his father!" They buzzed in 
his temples at every beat of his heart. Yes, that 
man, that tranquil man who was sitting on the 
other side of the table, was, perhaps, the father of 
his son, of George, of his little George. Parent left 
off eating ; he could not swallow any more. A ter- 
rible pain, one of those attacks of pain which make 
men scream, roll on the ground, and bite the furni- 
ture, was tearing at his entrails, and he felt inclined 
to take a knife and plunge it into his stomach. 



56 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

He started when he heard the door open. His 
wife came in. "I am hungry," she said; "are not 
you, Limousin?" 

He hesitated a little, and then said: "Yes, I am, 
upon my word." 

She had the leg of mutton brought in again. 
Parent asked himself : 

"Have they had dinner? Or are they late be- 
cause they have had a lovers' meeting?" 

They both ate with a very good appetite. Hen- 
riette was very calm, but laughed and joked. Her 
husband watched her furtively. She wore a pink 
teagown trimmed with white lace, and her fair 
head, her white neck and her plump hands stood 
out from that coquettish and perfumed dress as 
if it were a sea-shell edged with foam. 

What fun they must be making of him, if he had 
been their dupe since the first day! Was it pos- 
sible to make a fool of a man, a worthy man, be- 
cause his father had left him a little money? Why 
could one not see into people's souls? How was 
it that nothing revealed to upright hearts the deceits 
of infamous hearts? How was it that voices had 
the same sound for adoring as for lying? Why was 
a false, deceptive look the same as a sincere one? 
And he watched them, waiting to catch a gesture, a 
word, an intonation. Then suddenly he thought: 
"I will surprise them this evening," and he said: 
"My dear, as I have dismissed Julie, I will see 
about getting another maid this very day. I will go 



MONSIEUR PARENT 57 

at once to procure one by to-morrow morning, so I 
may not be in until late." 

"Very well," she replied; "go. I shall not stir 
from here. Limousin will keep me company. We 
will wait for you." Then, turning to the maid, she 
said: "You had better put George to bed, and then 
you can clear away and go up to your room." 

Parent had got up ; he was unsteady on his legs, 
dazed and bewildered, and saying, "I shall see you 
again later," he went out, and the floor seemed to 
roll like a ship. George had been carried out by 
his nurse, while Henriette and Limousin went into 
the drawing-room. 

As soon as the door was shut, he said: "You 
must be mad, surely, to torment your husband so." 

She immediately turned on him : "Ah! Do you 
know I think the habit you have got into lately, 
of looking upon Parent as a martyr, is very un- 
pleasant?" 

Limousin threw himself into an easy-chair and 
crossed his legs. "I am not setting him up as a 
martyr in the least, but I think that, situated as 
we are, it is ridiculous to defy this man as you do, 
from morning till night." 

She took a cigarette from the mantelpiece, lighted 
it, and replied: "But I do not defy him; quite the 
contrary. Only he irritates me by his stupidity, and 
I treat him as he deserves." 

Limousin continued impatiently: "What you are 
doing is very foolish ! I am only asking you to treat 



58 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

your husband gently, because both of us require 
him to trust us. I think you ought to see that." 

They were close together; he, tall, dark, with 
long whiskers and the rather vulgar manners of a 
good-looking man who is very well satisfied with 
himself; she, small, fair, and pink, a little Parisian, 
born in the back room of a shop, half cocotte and 
half bourgeoise, brought up to entice customers to 
the store by her glances, and married, in conse- 
quence, to a simple, unsophisticated man, who saw 
her outside the door every morning when he went 
out and every evening when he came home. 

''But do you not understand, you great booby," 
she said, "that I hate him just because he married 
me, because he bought me, in fact; because every- 
thing that he says and does, everything that he 
thinks, acts on my nerves? He exasperates me 
every moment by his stupidity, which you call his 
kindness ; by his dullness, which you call his confi- 
dence, and then, above all, because he is my hus- 
band, instead of you. I feel him between us, al- 
though he does not interfere with us much. And 
then — and then? No, it is, after all, too idiotic of 
him not to guess anything! I wish he would, at 
any rate, be a little jealous. There are moments 
when I feel inclined to say to him: *Do you not 
see, you stupid creature, that Paul is my lover?' 

"It is quite incomprehensible that you cannot 
understand how hateful he is to me, how he irritates 
me. You always seem to like him, and you shake 



MONSIEUR PARENT 59 

hands with him cordially. Men are very extraor- 
dinary at times." 

"One must know how to dissimulate, my dear." 

"It is no question of dissimulation, but of feel- 
ing. One might think that, when you men deceive 
one another, you like each other better on that ac- 
count, while we women hate a man from the mo- 
ment that we have betrayed him." 

"I do not see why one should hate an excellent 
fellow because one is friendly with his wife." 

"You do not see it? You do not see it? You 
all of you are wanting in refinement of feeling. 
However, that is one of those things which one 
feels and cannot express. And then, moreover, one 
ought not. No, you would not understand; it is 
quite useless! You men have no delicacy of feel- 
ing." 

And smiling, with the gentle contempt of an im- 
pure woman, she put both her hands on his shoul- 
ders and held up her lips to him. He stooped down 
and clasped her closely in his arms, and their lips 
met. And as they stood in front of the mantel mir- 
ror, another couple exactly like them embraced be- 
hind the clock. 

They had heard nothing, neither the noise of the 
key nor the creaking of the door, but suddenly Hen- 
riette, with a loud cry, pushed Limousin away with 
both her arms, and they saw Parent looking at 
them, livid with rage, without his shoes on and his 
hat over his forehead. He looked at each, one after 



60 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

the other, with a quick glance and without moving 
his head. He appeared beside himself. Then, 
without saying a word, he threw himself on Limou- 
sin, seized him as if he were going to strangle 
him, and flung him into the opposite corner of the 
room so violently that the other lost his balance, 
and, beating the air with his hand, struck his head 
violently against the wall. 

When Henriette saw that her husband was going 
to murder her lover, she threw herself on Parent, 
seized him by the neck, and digging her ten deli- 
cate, rosy fingers into his neck, she queezed him so 
tightly, with all the vigor of a desperate woman, 
that the blood spurted out under her nails, and she 
bit his shoulder, as if she wished to tear it with her 
teeth. Parent, half -strangled and choking, loosened 
his hold on Limousin, in order to shake off his wife, 
who was hanging to his neck. Putting his arms 
round her waist, he flung her also to the other end 
of the drawing-room. 

Then, as his passion was short-lived, like that 
of most good-tempered men, and his strength was 
soon exhausted, he remained standing between the 
two, panting, worn out, not knowing what to do 
next. His brutal fury had expended itself in that 
effort, like the froth of a bottle of champagne, and 
his unwonted energy ended in a gasping for breath. 
As soon as he could speak, however, he said: 

"Go away — both of you — immediately! Go!" 

Limousin remained motionless in his comer, 



MONSIEUR PARENT 61 

against the wall, too startled to understand anything 
as yet, too frightened to move a finger ; while Hen- 
riette, with her hands resting on a small, round 
table, her head bent forward, her hair hanging 
down, her bodice unfastened, waited like a wild 
animal which is about to spring. Parent continued 
in a stronger voice: "Go away immediately. Get 
out of the house !" 

His wife, however, seeing that he had got over 
his first exasperation, grew bolder, drew herself up, 
took two steps toward him, and, grown almost inso- 
lent, she said: "Have you lost your head? What 
is the matter with you? What is the meaning of 
this unjustifiable violence?" 

But he turned toward her, and raising his fist 
to strike her, he stammered out: "Oh — oh — this 
is too much, too much ! I heard everything ! Every- 
thing — do you understand? Everything! You 
wretch — you wretch ! You are two wretches ! Get 
out of the house, both of you ! Immediately, or I 
shall kill you! Leave the house!" 

She saw that it was all over, and that he knew 
everything; that she could not prove her innocence, 
and that she must comply. But all her imprudence 
had returned to her, and her hatred for the man 
which was aggravated now, drove her to audacity, 
made her feel the need of bravado, and of defying 
him, and she said in a clear voice: "Come, Limou- 
sin ; as he is going to turn me out of doors, I will 
go to your lodgings with you." 

Vol. 2—5 



62 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

But Limousin did not move, and Parent, in a 
fresh access of rage, cried out: "Go, will you? 

Go, you wretches ! Or else — or else " He 

seized a chair and whirled it over his head. 

Henriette walked quickly across the room, took 
her lover by the arm, dragged him from the wall, 
to which he appeared fixed, and led him toward the 
door, saying: "Do come, my friend — you see that 
the man is mad. Do come!" 

As she went out she turned round to her hus- 
band, trying to think of something that she could 
do, something that she could invent to wound him 
to the heart as she left the house, and an idea struck 
her, one of those venomous, deadly ideas in which 
all a woman's perfidy shows itself, and she said 
resolutely: "I am going to take my child with me." 

Parent was stupefied, and stammered : " Your — 
your — child ? You dare to talk of your child ? You 
venture — you venture to ask for your child — after 

— after Oh, oh, that is too much! Go, you 

vile creature! Go!" 

She went up to him again, almost smiling, almost 
avenged already, and defying him, standing close 
to him, and face to face, she said: "I want my 
child, and you have no right to keep him, because 
he is not yours — do you understand? He is not 
yours! He is Limousin's!" 

And Parent cried out in bewilderment: "You 
lie — you lie — worthless woman!" 

But she continued: "You fool! Everybody 



MONSIEUR PARENT 63 

knows it except you. I tell you, this is his father. 
You need only look at him to see it." 

Parent staggered backward, and then he sud- 
denly turned round, took a candle, and rushed into 
the next room; returning almost immediately, car- 
rying little George wrapped up in his bedclothes. 
The child, who had been suddenly awakened, was 
crying from fright. Parent threw him into his 
wife's arms, and then, without speaking, he pushed 
her roughly out toward the stairs, where Limousin 
was waiting, from motives of prudence. 

Then he shut the door again, double-locked and 
bolted it, but had scarcely got back into the draw- 
ing-room when he fell to the floor at full length. 



Parent lived alone, quite alone. During the five 
weeks that followed their separation, the feeling of 
surprise at his new life prevented him from think- 
ing much. He had resumed his bachelor life, his 
habits of lounging about, and took his meals at a 
restaurant. As he wished to avoid any scandal, 
he made his wife an allowance, which was arranged 
by their lawyers. By degrees, however, the thought 
of the child began to haunt him. Often, when he 
was at home alone at night, he suddenly thought he 
heard George calling out "Papa," and his heart 
would begin to beat, and he would get up quickly 
and open the door, to see whether, by chance, the 
child might have returned, as dogs or pigeons do. 



64 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

Why should a child have less instinct than an ani- 
mal? On finding that he was mistaken, he would 
sit in his armchair again and think of the boy. He 
would think of him for hours and whole days. It 
was not only a moral, but still more a physical 
obsession, a nervous longing to kiss him, to hold 
and fondle him, to take him on his knee and dance 
him. He felt the child's little arms around his neck, 
his little mouth pressing a kiss on his beard, his 
soft hair tickling his cheeks, and the remembrance 
of all those childish ways made him suffer as a man 
might for some beloved woman who has left him. 
Twenty or a hundred times a day he asked himself 
the question whether he was or was not George's 
father, and almost before he was in bed every night 
he resumed the same series of despairing questions. 

He especially dreaded the darkness of evening, 
the melancholy twilight. Then a flood of sorrow 
invaded his heart, a torrent of despair which 
seemed to overwhelm him and drive him mad. He 
was afraid of his own thoughts as men are of 
criminals, and he fled before them. Above all 
things, he feared his empty, dark, horrible dwelling 
and the deserted streets, in which, here and there, 
a gas-lamp flickered, where the isolated foot pas- 
senger whom one hears in the distance seems to be 
a night prowler, and makes one walk faster or 
slower, as he may be coming toward you or fol- 
lowing you. 

In spite of himself, and by instinct, Parent 



MONSIEUR PARENT 65 

went in the direction of the broad, well-lighted, pop- 
ulous streets. The light and the crowd attracted 
him, occupied his mind and distracted his thoughts, 
and when he was tired of walking aimlessly among 
the moving crowd, when he saw the foot passengers 
becoming more scarce and the pavements less 
crowded, the fear of solitude and silence drove him 
into some large cafe full of drinkers and of light. 
He went there as flies go to a candle, and he 
would sit down at one of the little round tables 
and ask for a "bock," which he drank slowly, feel- 
ing uneasy every time a customer got up to go. He 
would have liked to take him by the arm, hold him 
back, and beg him to stay a little longer, so much 
did he dread the time when the waiter should come 
up to him and say sharply: "Come, Monsieur, it 
is closing-time!" 

He thus got into the habit of going to the beer- 
houses, where the continual elbowing of the drink- 
ers brings you in contact with a familiar and silent 
public, where the heavy clouds of tobacco smoke 
lull disquietude, while the heavy beer dulls the mind 
and calms the heart. He almost lived there. Early 
in the day he went there to find people to distract 
his glances and his thoughts, and soon, as he felt 
too lazy to move, he took his meals there. 

After every meal, for more than an hour, he 
sipped three or four small glasses of brandy, which 
stupefied him by degrees, and then his head drooped 
on his chest, he shut his eyes, and slept. Awak- 



66 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

ing, he raised himself on the red velvet seat, 
straightened his waistcoat, pulled down his cuffs, 
and took up the newspapers again, though he had 
seen them in the morning, and read them through 
again, from beginning to end. Between four and 
five o'clock he went for a walk on the boulevards, 
to get a little fresh air, as he used to say, and then 
came back to the seat that had been reserved for 
him, and asked for absinthe. He would talk to 
the regular customers whose acquaintance he had 
made. They discussed the news of the day and 
political events, and that carried him on till dinner 
time; and he spent the evening as he had spent 
the afternoon, until it was time to close. That 
was a terrible moment for him when he was obliged 
to go out into the dark, into the emtpy room full of 
dreadful recollections, of horrible thoughts, and of 
mental agony. He no longer saw any of his old 
friends, any of his relatives, anybody who might 
remind him of his past life. But as his apartments 
were a hell to him, he took a good room on the 
ground floor in a large hotel, so as to see the 
passers-by. He was no longer alone in that great 
building. He felt people swarming round him, he 
heard voices in the adjoining rooms, and when his 
former sufferings tormented him too much at the 
sight of his bed, which was turned back, and of his 
solitary fireplace, he went out into the wide pas- 
sages and walked up and down them like a sentinel, 
before all the closed doors, and looked sadly at the 



MONSIEUR PARENT 67 

shoes standing in couples outside them, women's 
little boots by the side of men's thick ones, and he 
thought that, no doubt, all these people were happy, 
and were sleeping in their warm beds. 

Five miserable years passed thus. But one day, 
when he was taking his usual walk between the 
Madeleine and the Rue Drouot, he suddenly saw 
a lady whose bearing struck him. A tall gentleman 
and a child were with her, and all three were walk- 
ing in front of him. He asked himself where he 
had seen them before, when suddenly he recognized 
a movement of her hand ; it was his wife, his wife 
with Limousin and little George. 

His heart beat as if it would suffocate him, but 
he wished to see them, and he followed them. 
They looked like a family of the better middle 
class ; Henriette was leaning on Paul's arm, speak- 
ing to him in a low voice, and looking at him side- 
wise occasionally. Parent got a side view of her 
and recognized her pretty features, the movements 
of her lips, her smile, and her coaxing glances. 
But the child chiefly took up his attention. How 
tall and strong he was ! Parent could not see his 
face, but only his long, fair curls. That tall boy 
v/ith bare legs, who was walking by his mother's 
side like a little man, was George. 

He saw them suddenly, as they stopped in front 
of a shop. Limousin had grown very gray, had 
aged, and was thinner; his wife, on the contrary, 
was as young-looking as ever, and had grown 



68 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

stouter. George he would not have recognized, he 
was so different from what he had been formerly. 

They passed on, and Parent followed them. He 
walked on quickly, passed them, and then turned 
round, so as to meet them face-to-face. As he 
passed the child he felt a mad longing to take him 
into his arms and run oif with him, and he knocked 
against him as if by accident. The boy turned 
round and looked at the clumsy man angrily, and 
Parent hurried away, shocked, hurt, and pursued 
(by that look. He went off like a thief, seized with 
Si fear lest he might have been seen and recognized 
by his wife and her lover. He went to his cafe at 
once, and fell breathless into his chair. That even- 
ing he drank three absinthes. 

For four months he felt the pain of that meeting 
in his heart. Every night he saw the^three 'again, 
happy and tranquil, father, mother, and child walk- 
ing on the boulevard before going in to dinner, and 
that new vision effaced the old one. It was another 
matter, another hallucination now, and also a fresh 
pain. Little George, the child he had so mucn 
loved and so often kissed, disappeared in the far 
distance, and he saw a new one, like a brother of 
the first, a little boy with bare legs, who did not 
know him ! The child's love was dead ; there was 
no bond between them ; he had even looked at him 
angrily. 

Then by degrees he grew calmer, his mental tor- 
ture diminished, the image that had appeared to his 



MONSIEUR PARENT 69 

eyes and haunted his nights became more indis- 
tinct and less frequent. He began once more to 
live much like everybody else, like all those idle 
people who drink beer off marble-topped tables and 
wear out their clothes on the threadbare velvet of 
the couches. 

He grew old amid the smoke from pipes, lost his 
hair under the gas-lights, looked upon his weekly 
bath, on his fortnightly visit to the barber's to have 
his hair cut, and on the purchase of a new coat or 
hat, as an event. When he reached his cafe in a 
new hat he would look at himself in the glass a 
long time before sitting down, and take it off and 
put it on again several times, and at last ask his 
friend, the lady at the bar, who was watching him 
with interest, whether she thought it suited him. 

Two or three times a year he went to the theater, 
and in the summer he spent some evenings at one 
of the open-air concerts in the Champs-Elysees. 
And so the years followed one another, slow, mo- 
notonous, and short, because they were uneventful. 

He very rarely now thought of the dreadful 
drama that had wrecked his life ; for twenty years 
had passed since that terrible evening. But the 
Hie he had led since then had worn him out. The 
landlord of his cafe often said to him: "You 
ought to pull yourself together a little, Monsieur 
Parent ; you should get some fresh air and go into 
the country. I assure you that you have changed 
very much in the last few months." And when 



70 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

his customer had gone out he used to say to the 
barmaid: ''That poor Monsieur Parent is booked 
for another world; it is bad never to get out of 
Paris. Advise him to go out of town for a day oc- 
casionally; he has confidence in you. Summer will 
soon be here ; that will put him straight." 

And she, full of pity and kindness for such a 
regular customer, said to Parent one day: "Come, 
Monsieur, make up your mind to get a little fresh 
air. It is so charming in the country when the 
weather is fine. Oh, if I could, I would spend my 
life there !" 

By degrees he became possessed with a vague 
desire to go just once and see whether it was really 
as pleasant there as she said, outside the walls of 
the great city. One morning he said to her : 

"Do you know where one can get a good lunch-, 
eon in the neighborhood of Paris?" : 

"Go to the Terrace at Saint-Germain; it is de- 
lightful there!" 

He had been there formerly, when he became 
engaged. He made up his mind to go there again, 
and he chose a Sunday, for no special reason, but 
merely because people usually do go out on Sun- 
days, even when they have nothing to do all the 
week; and so one Sunday morning he went to 
Saint-Germain. He was thirsty; he would have 
liked to get out at every station and sit down in 
the cafe that he saw outside and drink a "bock" or 
two, and then take the first train back to Paris. 



MONSIEUR PARENT 71 

The journey seemed very long. He could remain 
sitting for whole days, while he had the same 
motionless objects before his eyes, but he found 
it very trying and fatiguing to remain sitting while 
he was being whirled along, and to see the country 
fly by while he himself was motionless. 

However, he found the Seine interesting every 
time he crossed it. Under the bridge at Chatou he 
saw some small boats going at great speed under the 
vigorous strokes of the bare-armed oarsmen, and he 
thought: "There are some fellows who are cer- 
tainly enjoying themselves !" The train entered the 
tunnel just before it reached the station at Saint- 
Germain, and presently stopped at the platform. 
Parent got out, and walked slowly, for already he 
felt tired, toward the Terrace, with his hands be- 
hind his back, and when he got to the iron balus- 
trade, he stopped to look at the distant horizon. 
The immense plain spread out before him vast as 
the sea, green and studded with large villages, al- 
most as populous as towns. The sun bathed the 
whole landscape in its full, warm light. The Seine 
winding like an endless serpent through the plain, 
flowed round the villages and along the slopes. 
Parent inhaled the warm breeze, which seemed to 
make his heart young again, to enliven his spirit, 
and to vivify his blood, and said to himself : 

"It is delightful here," 

Thea he took a few steps, and stopped again 
to look about hipi. The utter misery of bis exist- 



72 GUY DE T^IAUPASSANT 

ence seemed to be brought into full relief by the 
intense light that inundated the landscape. He saw 
his twenty years of cafe life — dull monotonous, 
heart-breaking. He might have traveled as others 
did, have gone among foreigners to unknown coun- 
tries beyond the sea, have interested himself some- 
what in everything that other men are passionately 
devoted to, in arts and science; he might have en- 
joyed life in a thousand forms, that mysterious 
life which is either charming or painful, constantly 
changing, always inexplicable and strange. Now, 
however, it was too late. He would go on drinking 
"bock" after "bock" until he died, without any 
family, without friends, without hope, without any 
curiosity about anything, and he was seized with a 
feeling of misery and a wish to run away, to hide 
himself in Paris, in his cafe and lethargy! All the 
thoughts, all the dreams, all the desires that are 
dormant in the slough of stagnating hearts had 
reawakened, brought to life by those rays of sun- 
light on the plain. 

Parent felt that if he were to remain there any 
longer he should lose his reason, and he made 
haste to get to the Pavilion Henri IV for luncheon 
to try to forget his troubles under the influence of 
wine and alcohol, and at any rate to have someone 
to speak to. 

H& took a small- table in one of the arbors, from 
which' one can see all the surrounding country, or- 
dered his luncheon, and asked to be served at once. 



MONSIEUR PARENT 73 

Then some more persons arrived and sat down at 
tables near him. He felt more comfortable ; he was 
no longer alone. Three persons were eating near 
him. He looked at them two or three times witliout 
seeing them clearly, as one looks at total strangers. 
Suddenly a woman's voice sent a shiver through 
him which seemed to penetrate to his very marrow. 

"George," it had said, "will you carve the 
chicken?" 

And another voice replied: "Yes, mamma." 

Parent looked up, and understood; he guessed 
immediately who those persons were I He should 
certainly not have known them again. His wife had 
grown quite white and very stout, an elderly, seri- 
ous, respectable lady, and she held her head for- 
ward as she ate, for fear of spotting her dress, al- 
though she had a table napkin tucked under her 
chin. George had become a man. He had a slight 
beard, that uneven and almost colorless beard which 
adorns the cheeks of youths. He wore a high hat, 
a white waistcoat, and a monocle, because it looked 
"swell," no doubt. Parent looked at him in astonish- 
ment. Was that George, his son? No, he did not 
know that young man; there could be nothing in 
common between them. Limousin had his back to 
him, and was eating, with his shoulders rather bent. 

All three appeared happy and satisfied ; they 
came and took luncheon in the country at well- 
known restaurants. They had had a calm and 
pleasant existence, a family; existence in a warm 



74 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

and comfortable house, filled with all those trifles 
which make life agreeable, with affection, with 
those tender words which people exchange contin- 
ually when they love each other. They had lived 
thus, thanks to him, Parent, o-n his money, after 
deceiving him, robbing him, ruining him ! They 
had condemned him, the innoceat, simple-minded, 
jovial man, to all the miseries of solitude, to that 
abominable life which he had led between the pave- 
ment and the counter, to every mental torture and 
every physical misery I They had made him a use- 
less, aimless being, a waif in the world, a poor old 
man without any pleasures, any prospects, expect- 
ing nothing from anybody or anything. For him, 
the world was empty, because he loved nothing in 
the world. He might go among other nations, or go 
about the streets, go into all the houses in Paris, 
open every room, but he would not find inside any 
door the beloved face, the face of wife or child, 
which smiles when it sees you. This idea worked 
upon him more than any other, the idea of a door 
that one opens to see and to embrace somebody 
behind it. 

And that was the fault of those three wretches ! 
The fault of that worthless woman, of that infa- 
mous friend, and of that tall, light-haired lad who 
put on insolent airs. Now he felt as angry with the 
child as with the other two. Was he not Limou- 
sin's son? Would Limousin have kept him and 
loved him otherwise? Would not Limousin very 



MONSIEUR PARENT 75 

quickly have got rid of the mother and of the child 
if he had not felt sure that it was his, positively 
his? Does anybody bring up other people's chil- 
dren? And now they were there, quite close to 
him, those three who had made him suffer so 
much. 

Parent looked at them, irritated and excited at 
the recollection of all his sufferings and of his de- 
spair, and was especially exasperated at their placid 
and satisfied looks. He felt inclined to kill them, to 
throw his siphon of Seltzer water at them, to split 
open Limousin's head as he every moment bent it 
over his plate, raising it again immediately. 

He would have his revenge now, on the spot, as 
he had them under his hand. But how ? He tried 
to think of some means, he pictured such dreadful 
things as one reads of in the newspapers occasion- 
ally, but could not hit on anything practical. And 
he went on drinking to excite himself, to give him- 
self courage not to allow such an opportunity to 
escape him, as he might never have another. 

Suddenly an idea struck him, a terrible idea ; and 
he left off drinking to mature it. He smiled as he 
murmured: "I have them! I have them! We shall 
see ! We shall see !" 

They finished their luncheon slowly, conversing 
with unconcern. Parent could not hear what they 
were saying, but he saw their quiet gestures. His 
wife's face especially exasperated him. She had 
assumed a haughty air, the air of a comfortable 



76 GU\^ DE MAUPASSANT 

woman, of an unapproachable, devout woman, 
sheathed in principles, iron-clad in virtue. They 
paid their bill and rose from the table. Parent 
then noticed Limousin. He might have been taken 
for a retired diplomat, for he looked a man of great 
importance, with his soft white whiskers, the tips 
of which touched his coat-collar. 

They walked away. Parent rose and followed 
them. First they went up and down the terrace, and 
calmly admired the landscape, and then they went 
into the forest. Parent followed them at a dis- 
tance, hiding himself so as not to excite their sus- 
picion too soon. 

Parent came up to them by degrees, breathing 
hard with emotion and fatigue, for he was unused 
to walking now. He soon came up to them, but was 
seized with fear, an inexplicable fear, and he passed 
them, so as to turn round and meet them face-to- 
face. He walked on, his heart beating, feeling that 
they were just behind him now, and he said to him- 
self : "Come, now is the time. Courage! courage! 
Now is the moment!" 

He turned round. They were all three sitting 
on the grass, at the foot of a huge tree, and were 
still chatting. He made up his mind, and walked 
back rapidly ; stopping in front of them in the mid- 
dle of the road, he said abruptly, in a voice broken 
by emotion : 

"It is I! Here I am! I suppose you did not 
expect me?" 



MONSIEUR PARENT 17 

They all stared at this man, who seemed to 
be insane. He continued: 

"One would suppose that you did not know me 
again. Just look at me I I am Parent, Henri Par- 
ent. You thought it was all over, and that you 
would never see me again. Ah ! but here I am once 
more, and now we will have an explanation." 

Henriette, terrified, hid her face in her hands, 
murmuring: "Oh! Good heavens!" 

Seeing this stranger, who seemed to be threat- 
ening his mother, George sprang up, ready to seize 
him by the collar. Limousin, thunderstruck, looked 
at the apparition in horror, who, after gasping for 
breath, continued: 

"So now we will have an explanation; the 
proper moment has come! Ah! you deceived me, 
you condemned me to the life of a convict, and you 
thought that I should never catch you !" 

The young man took him by the shoulders and 
pushed him back, 

"Are you mad?" he asked. "What do you 
want ? Go on your way immediately, or I shall give 
you a thrashing!" 

"What do I want?" replied Parent. "I want 
to tell you who these people are." 

George, however, was in a rage, and shook him, 
and was even going to strike him. 

"Let me go," said Parent. "I am your father. 
There, see whether they recognize me now, the 
wretches !" 

Vol. 2—6 



78 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The young man, thunderstruck, unclenched his 
fists and turned toward his mother. Parent, as soon 
as he was released, approached her. 

"Well," he said, "tell him yourself who I am! 
Tell him that my name is Henri Parent, that I am 
his father because his name is George Parent, be- 
cause you are my wife, because you are all three 
living on my money, on the allowance of ten thou- 
sand francs which I have made you since I drove 
you out of my house. Will you tell him also why I 
drove you out? Because I surprised you with this 
beggar, this wretch, your lover! Tell him what 
I was, an honorable man, whom you married for 
money, and whom you deceived from the very first 
day. Tell him who you are, and who I am " 

He stammered and gasped for breath in his rage. 
The woman exclaimed in a heartrending voice: 

"Paul, Paul, stop him; make him be quiet! Do 
not let him say this before my son !" 

Limousin had also risen to his feet. He said in 
a very low voice: 

"Hold your tongue! Do you understand what 
you are doing?" 

"I know quite well what I am doing," resumed 
Parent, "and that is not all. There is one thing 
that I will know, something that has tormented me 
for twenty years." Then, turning to George, who 
was leaning against a tree in consternation, he 
said: 

"Listen to me. When she left my house she 



MONSIEUR PARENT 79 

thought it was not enough to have deceived me, but 
she also wanted to drive me to despair. You were 
my only consolation, and she took you with her, 
swearing that I was not your father, but that he 
was your father. Was she lying? I do not know. 
I have been asking myself the question for the last 
twenty years." 

He went close up to her, tragic and terrible, and, 
pulling away her hands, with which she had covered 
her face, he continued: 

"Well, now ! I call upon you to tell me which of 
us two is the father of this young man; he or I, 
your husband or your lover. Come ! tell us." 

Limousin rushed at him. Parent pushed him 
back, and, sneering in his fury, he said: "Ah! you 
are brave now 1 You are braver than you were that 
day when you ran downstairs because you thought 
I was going to murder you. Very well ! If she will 
not reply, tell me yourself. You ought to know as 
well as she. Tell me, are you this young fellow's 
father? Come! Tell me!" 

He turned to his wife again. 

"If you will not tell me, at any rate tell your 
son. He is a man, now, and he has the right to 
know who is his father. I do not know, and I never 
did know, never, never ! I cannot tell you, my boy." 

He seemed to be losing his senses ; his voice grew 
shrill and he worked his arms about as if he had an 
epileptic fit. 

"Come! Give me an answer. She does not 



80 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

know. I will make a bet that she does not know. 
No, she does not know, by Jovel Hal hal ha! 
Nobody knows — nobody. How can one know such 
things? You will not know either, my boy, you 
will not know any more than I do — never. Look 
here, ask her — you will find that she does not 
know. I do not know either, nor does he, nor do 
you, nobody knows. You can choose — you can 
choose — yes, you can choose — him or me. Choose. 
Good evening. It is all over. If she makes up her 
mind to tell you, you will come and let me know, 
will you not? I am living at the Hotel des Con- 
tinents. I should be glad to know. Good evening. 
I hope you will enjoy yourselves very much." 

And he went away gesticulating, talking to him- 
self under the tall trees, in the quiet, the cool air, 
which was full of the fragrance of growing plants. 
He did not turn around to look at them, but went 
straight on, walking under the stimulus of his rage, 
under a storm of passion, with that one fixed idea in 
his mind. All at once he found himself outside the 
station. A train was about to start, and he got in. 
During the journey his anger calmed down, he re- 
gained his senses and returned to Paris, astonished 
at his own boldness, full of aches and pains as if he 
had broken some bones. Nevertheless, he went to 
have a "bock" at his brewery. 

When she saw him come in. Mademoiselle Zoe 
asked in surprise: "What! back already? are you 
tired?" 



MONSIEUR PARENT 81 

"Yes — yes, I am tired — very tired. You know, 
when one is not used to going out — I've had enough 
of it. I shall not go into the country again. It 
would have been better to stay here. For the fu- 
ture, I shall not stir out." 

She could not persuade him to tell her about his 
little excursion, much as she wished to. 

For the first time in his life he got thoroughly 
drunk that nighty and had to be carried home. 



MISS HARRIET 

SEVEN of us were on a drag, four women and 
three men; one of the latter sat beside the 
coachman. We were ascending, at snail's pace, 
the winding road up the steep cliff along the coast. 

Setting out from Etretat at break of day to visit 
the ruins of Tancarville, we were still half asleep, 
benumbed by the fresh air. The women especially, 
who were little accustomed to these early excur- 
sions, half opened and closed their eyes every mo- 
ment, nodding their heads or yawning, insensible to 
the beauties of the dawn. 

It was autumn. On both sides of the road 
stretched the bare fields, yellowed by the stubble of 
wheat and oats that covered the soil like a badly 
shaved beard. The moist earth seemed to steam. 
Larks were singing, high in the air, while other 
birds piped in the bushes. 

The sun rose in front of us, bright red on the 
plane of the horizon; and in proportion as it as- 
cended, growing clearer from minute to minute, 
the country seemed to awake, to smile, to shake it- 
self, like a young girl leaving her bed in her white 

82 



MISS HARRIET 83 

robe of vapor. The Comte d'Etraille, who was 
seated on the box, cried: 

"Look! look! a hare!" and he extended his arm 
toward the left, pointing to a patch of clover. The 
animal scurried along, almost hidden by the clover, 
only its large ears showing. Then it swerved across 
a furrow, stopped, went off again at full speed, 
changed its course, stopped anew, uneasy, spying 
out every danger, uncertain what route to take; 
when suddenly it began to run with great bounds, 
disappearing finally in a large patch of beet-root. 
All the men had wakened up to watch the course of 
the animal. 

Rene Lamanoir exclaimed: 

"We are not at all gallant this morning," and, 
regarding his neighbor, the little Baroness de Se- 
rennes, who struggled against sleep, he said to her 
in a low tone: "You are thinking of your husband. 
Baroness. Reassure yourself; he will not return be- 
fore Saturday, so you have still four days." 

She answered with a sleepy smile: 

"How stupid you are!" Then, shaking off her 
torpor, she added: "Now, let somebody say some- 
thing to make us laugh. You, Monsieur Chenal, 
who are reputed to have had more love affairs than 
the Due de Richelieu, tell us a love story in which 
you have played a part; anything you like." 

Leon Chenal, an old painter, who had once been 
very handsome, very strong, very proud of his phy- 
sique, and very popular with women, took his long 



84 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

white beard in his hand and smiled; then, after a 
few moments' reflection, he became serious. 

"Ladies, it will not be an amusing tale; for I 
am going to relate to you the saddest love affair of 
my life, and I sincerely hope that none of my 
friends may ever have a similar experience. 

"I was twenty-five years of age, and was pillag- 
ing along the coast of Normandy. I call 'pillaging' 
wandering about, with a knapsack, from inn to 
inn, under the pretext of making studies and sketch- 
ing landscapes. I know nothing more enjoyable 
than that happy-go-lucky wandering life, in which 
one is perfectly free, without shackles of any kind, 
without care, without preoccupation, without even 
thinking of the morrow. One goes in any direction 
he pleases, without any guide save his fancy, or any 
counsellor save his eyes. One stops because a run- 
ning brook attracts him, because the smell of frying 
potatoes tickles one's olfactories on passing an inn. 
Sometimes it is the perfume of clematis which de- 
cides one in his choice, or the roguish glance of the 
servant at an inn. Do not despise me for my affec- 
tion for these rustics. These girls have a soul as 
well as senses, not to mention firm cheeks and fresh 
lips ; while their hearty and willing kisses have the 
flavor of wild fruit. Love is always love, come 
whence it may. A heart that beats at your ap- 
proach, an eye that weeps when you go away, are 
things so rare, so sweet, so precious, that they must 
never be despised. 



MISS HARRIET 85 

i 

"I have had rendezvous in ditches full of prim- 
roses, behind covvstables, and in barns on the straw, 
still warm from the heat of the day. I have recol- 
lections of coarse gray cloth, covering supple peas- 
ant skin, and regrets for simple, frank kisses, more 
delicate in their unaffected sincerity than the subtle 
favors of charming and distinguished women. 

"But what one loves most amid all these varied 
adventures is the country, the woods, the rising of 
the sun, the twilight, the moonlight. These are, for 
the painter, honeymoon trips with nature. One is 
alone with her in that long and quiet association. 
You go to sleep in the fields, amid marguerites and 
poppies, and, with eyes wide open, on a sunny day 
you descry in the distance the little village, with 
its pointed clock-tower which sounds the hour of 
noon. 

"You sit by the side of a spring that gushes 
out at the foot of an oak, amid a growth of tall, 
slender weeds, glistening with life. You go down 
on your knees, bend forward, and drink that cold, 
pellucid water which wets your moustache and 
nose ; you drink it with a physical pleasure as if you 
kissed the spring, lip to lip. Sometimes, when you 
find a deep hole along the course of these tiny 
brooks, you plunge in quite naked, and you feel 
from head to foot, an icy and delicious caress, the 
light and gentle quivering of the stream. 

"You are gay on the hills, melancholy on the 
edge of ponds, inspired when the sun is setting in an 



86 ' GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

ocean of blood-red clouds and casts red reflections 
on the river. And at night, under the moon, which 
passes across the vault of heaven, you think of a 
thousand strange things that would never have 
occurred to you under the brilliant light of day. 

''So, in wandering through the same country 
where we are this year, I came to the little village 
of Benouville, on the cliff, between Yport and 
Etretat. I came from Fecamp, following the coast, 
a high coast, perpendicular as a wall, with its chalk 
cliffs descending perpendicularly into the sea. I 
had walked since early morning on the short grass, 
smooth and yielding as a carpet, that grows on the 
edge of the cliff. And, singing lustily, I walked 
with long strides, looking sometimes at the slow 
circling flight of a gull with its white curved wings 
outlined on the blue sky, sometimes at the brown 
sails of a fishing-bark on the green sea. In short, 
I had passed a happy day, a day of liberty and free- 
dom from care. 

"A little farmhouse where travelers were lodged 
was pointed out to me, a kind of inn, kept by a 
peasant woman, which stood in the center of a Nor- 
man courtyard surrounded by a double row of 
beeches. 

"Leaving the coast, I reached the hamlet, which 
was hemmed in by great trees, and presented my- 
self at the house of Mother Lecacheur. 

"She was an old, wrinkled, and stern peasant 
woman, who seemed always to receive customers 
under protest, with a kind of defiance. 



MISS HARRIET 87 

"It was May, and the spreading apple-trees 
covered the court with a shower of blossoms which 
rained unceasingly upon people and grass. 

"I said: 'Madame Lecacheur, have you a room 
for me ?' 

"Astonished to find that I knew her name, she 
answered : 

" 'That depends ; everything is let ; but all the 
same I can find out.' 

"In five minutes we had come to an agreement, 
and I deposited my bag upon the earthen floor of a 
rustic room, furnished with a bed, two chairs, a 
table, and a washbowl. The room looked into the 
large, smoky kitchen, where the lodgers took their 
meals with the people of the farm and the landlady, 
who was a widow. 

"I washed my hands, and then went out. The 
old woman was making a chicken fricasse for din- 
ner in the large fireplace, in which hung the iron 
pot, black with smoke. 

" 'You have travelers, then?' said I to her. 

"She answered, in an oflfended tone of voice: 
'I have a lady, an English lady, who has 
reached years of maturity. She occupies the other 
room.' 

"I obtained, by means of an extra five sous a 
day, the privilege of dining out in the court when 
the weather was fine. 

"My place was set outside the door, and I was 
beginning to gnaw the lean limbs of the Normandy 



88 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

chicken, to drink the clear cider, and to munch the 
hunk of white bread, which was four days old, but 
excellent. 

"Suddenly the wooden gate that gave on the 
highway was opened, and a strange lady directed 
her steps toward the house. She was very thin, 
very tall, so tightly enveloped in a red Scotch plaid 
shawl that one might have supposed she had no 
arms, if one had not seen a long hand just above 
the hips, holding a white tourist's umbrella. Her 
face was like that of a mummy, surrounded with 
curls of gray hair, which tossed about at every 
step she took, and made me think, I know not 
why, of a pickled herring in curl-papers. Low- 
ering her eyes, she passed quickly in front of me, 
and entered the house. 

"That singular apparition cheered me. She un- 
doubtedly was my neighbor, the English lady of 
mature age of whom our hostess had spoken. 

"I did not see her again that day. The next 
day, when I had settled myself to begin painting, 
at the end of that beautiful valley which you know 
and which extends as far as Etretat, I perceived, 
on lifting my eyes suddenly, something singular 
standing on the crest of the cliff; one might have 
said, a pole decked out with flags. It was she. On 
seeing me, she suddenly disappeared. I re-entered 
the house at midday for luncheon and took my seat 
at the general table, so as to make the acquaintance 
of this odd character. But she did not respond to 



MISS HARRIET 89 

my polite advances, was insensible even to my little 
attentions. I persistently poured out water for her, 
I passed her the dishes with great eagerness. A 
slight, almost imperceptible, movement of the head 
and an English word, murmured so low that I did 
not understand it, were her only acknowledgments. 

"I ceased occupying myself with her, although 
she had disturbed my thoughts. 

"At the end of three days I knew as much about 
her as did Madame Lecacheur herself. 

"She was called Miss Harriet. Seeking for a 
secluded village in which to pass the summer, she 
had been attracted to Benouville six months be- 
fore, and did not appear disposed to leave it. She 
never spoke at table, ate rapidly, reading all the 
while a small book of Protestant propaganda. She 
gave a copy of it to everybody. The cure himself 
had received four copies, conveyed by an urchin 
to whom she had paid two sous' commission. She 
said sometimes to our hostess, abruptly, without 
in the least preparing her for the declaration : 

" 'I love the Saviour more than all. I admire 
Him in all creation ; I adore Him in all nature ; I 
carry Him always in my heart.' 

"And she would immediately present the old 
woman with one of her tracts which were destined 
to convert the universe. 

"In the village she was not liked. In fact, the 
schoolmaster had pronounced her an atheist, and a 
kind of stigma attached to her. The cure, who had 



90 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

been consulted by Madame Lecacheur, responded: 

" 'She is a heretic, but God does not wish the 
death of the sinner, and I believe her to be a person 
of pure morals.' 

"These words, 'atheist,' 'heretic,' which no one 
can precisely define, threw doubts into some minds. 
It was asserted, however, that this English woman 
was rich, and that she had passed her life in travel- 
ing through the world, because her family had cast 
her off. Why had her family cast her off? Be- 
cause of her impiety, of course. 

"She was, in fact, one of those persons of exalted 
principles, one of those opinionated puritans, of 
which England produces so many, one of those good 
and insupportable old maids who haunt the table 
d'hote of every hotel in Europe, who spoil Italy, 
poison Switzerland, render the charming cities of 
the Mediterranean uninhabitable, carry everywhere 
their fantastic manias, manners of petrified vestals, 
their indescribable toilets, and a certain odor of 
india-rubber, which makes one believe that at night 
they are slipped into a rubber casing. 

"Whenever I caught sight of one of these indi- 
viduals in a hotel, I fled like the birds that see a 
scarecrow in a field. 

"This woman, however, appeared so very sin- 
gular that she did not displease me. 

"Madame Lecacheur, hostile by instinct to every- 
thing that was not rustic, felt in her narrow soul a 
kind of hatred for the ecstatic declarations of the 



MISS HARRIET 91 

old maid. She had found a phrase by which to 
describe her, a term of contempt that rose to her 
Hps, called forth by I know not what confused and 
mysterious mental ratiocination. She said: 'That 
woman is a demoniac' This epithet, applied to that 
austere and sentimental creature, seemed to me irre- 
sistibly droll. I myself never called her anything 
now but 'the demoniac,' and I found a singular 
pleasure in pronouncing this word aloud on per- 
ceiving her. 

"One day I asked Mother Lecacheur: 'What is 
our demoniac about to-day ?' 

*'To which my rustic friend replied, shocked: 

" 'What do you think, sir? She picked up a toad 
that had had its paw crushed, and carried it to 
her room, and has put it in her washbasin, and 
bandaged it as if it were a man. If that is not prof- 
anation, I should like to know what is !' 

''On another occasion, when walking along the 
shore, she bought a large fish which had just been 
caught, simply to throw it back into the sea. The 
sailor from whom she had bought it, although she 
paid him handsomely, began to swear at her, more 
exasperated, indeed, than if she had put her hand 
into his pocket and taken his money. For more 
than a month he could not speak of the circum- 
stance without denouncing it as an outrage. Oh, 
yes ! She was indeed a demoniac, this Miss Har- 
riet, and Mother Lecacheur must have had an in- 
spiration in thus christening her. 



92 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"The stable-boy, who was called Sapeur, because 
he had served in Africa in his youth, entertained 
other opinions. He said, with a roguish air: 'She 
is an old hag who has seen life.' 

''If the poor woman had but known! 

"The little kind-hearted Celeste did not wait 
upon her willingly, but I never was able to under- 
stand why. Probably her only reason was that 
she was a stranger, of another race, of a different 
tongue, and of another religion. 

"She wandered about the country, adoring and 
seeking God in nature. I found her one evening 
on her knees in a cluster of bushes. Having dis- 
covered something red through the leaves, I brushed 
aside the branches, and Miss Harriet at once rose 
to her feet, confusd at having been found thus, and 
fixed on me terrified eyes like those of an owl 
surprised in open day. 

"Sometimes, when I was working among the 
rocks, I suddenly descried her on the edge of the 
cliff like a lighthouse. She would gaze in rapture 
at the vast sea, glittering in the sunlight, and the 
boundless sky with its golden-red tints. Some- 
times I distinguished her at the end of the valley, 
walking quickly, with her elastic English step ; and 
I would go toward her, attracted by I know not 
what, simply to see her illuminated visage, her 
dried-up, ineffable features, which seemed to glow 
with profound happiness. 

"I often encountered her also in the corner of a 
field, sitting on the grass under the shadow of an 



MISS HARRIET 93 

apple-tree, with her religious booklet open on her 
knee while she gazed into the distance. 

"I could not tear myself away from that quiet 
country neighborhood, to which I was attached by 
a thousand links of love for its wide and peaceful 
landscape. I was happy in this sequestered farm, 
but in touch with the earth, the good, beautiful, 
green earth. And — must I avow it? — there was, 
besides, a little curiosity which retained me at the 
residence of Mother Lecacheur. I wished to be- 
come acquainted a little with this strange Miss 
Harriet, and to know what takes place in the 
solitary souls of those wandering old English 
women. 

"We became acquainted in a singular manner. 
I had just finished a study which appeared to me 
to be worth something; and so it was, as fifteen 
years later it sold for ten thousand francs. It 
was as simple, however, as two and two make four, 
and was not according to academic rules. The 
whole right side of my canvas represented an enor- 
mous rock, covered with sea-wrack, brown, yellow, 
and red, across which the sun poured like a stream 
of oil. The light fell upon the rock as if it were 
aflame, without the sun, which was at my back, 
being visible. That was all. A first bewildering 
study of blazing and gorgeous light. 

''On the left was the sea, not the blue sea, the 
slate-colored sea, but a sea of jade, greenish, milky 
and solid beneath the deep-colored sky. 

Vol. 2—7 



94 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"I was so pleased with my work that I (lanced 
from sheer delight as I carried it back to the inn. 
I should have liked the whole world to see it at 
once. I showed it to a cow which was browsing 
by the wayside, exclaiming as I did so: 'Look at 
that, my old beauty ; you will not often see its like 
again.' 

"When I had reached the house I immediately 
shouted to Mother Lecacheur: 

"'Hello, there! Mrs. Landlady, come and look 
at this.' 

"The rustic advanced and regarded my work 
with her stupid eyes, which distinguished nothing, 
and could not even recognize whether the picture 
represented an ox or a house. 

"Miss Harriet just then came home, and she 
passed behind me as I was holding out my canvas 
at arm's length, exhibiting it to our landlady. The 
demoniac could not help seeing it, for I took care 
to exhibit the thing in such a way that it could not 
escape her notice. She stopped abruptly and stood 
motionless, astonished. It was her rock that was 
depicted, the one she climbed to dream away her 
time undisturbed. 

"She uttered a British 'Aoh,' which was at once 
so accentuated and so flattering that I turned to her, 
smiling, and said : 

" 'This is my latest study, Mademoiselle.' 

"She murmured rapturously, comically, and ten- 
derly : 



MISS HARRIET 95 

" 'Oh, Monsieur, you understand nature as a liv- 
ing thing.' 

"I colored, and was more touched by that com- 
pliment than if it had come from a queen. I was 
captured, conquered, vanquished. I could have 
embraced her, upon my honor. 

"I took my seat at table beside her, as usual. 
For the first time she spoke, thinking aloud: 

" 'Oh ! I do love nature.' 

"I passed her some bread, some water, some 
wine. She now accepted these with a little smile 
of a mummy. I then talked about the scenery. 

'"We rose from the table together and walked 
leisurely across the court ; then, attracted, doubtless, 
by the fiery glow which the setting sun cast over 
the surface of the sea, I opened the gate that led 
to the beach, and we walked along side-by-side, as 
contented as two persons might be who have just 
learned to understand and penetrate each other's 
motives and feelings. 

"It was one of those warm, soft evenings which 
impart a sense of ease to flesh and spirit alike. All 
is enjoyment; everything charms. The balmy air, 
laden with the perfume of grasses and the smell of 
seaweed, soothes the olfactory sense with its wild 
fragrance, soothes the palate with its sea savor, 
soothes the mind with its pervading sweetness. 

*'We were now walking along the edge of the 
cliflf, above the boundless sea, which rolled its 
little waves below us at a distance of a hundred 



96 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

meters. And we inhaled that fresh breeze, briny 
from kissing the waves, that came from the ocean 
and passed across our faces. 

"Wrapped in her plaid shawl, with a look of 
inspiration as she faced the breeze, the English- 
woman gazed fixedly at the great sun-ball de- 
scending toward the horizon. Far in the distance, 
a three-master in full sail was outlined on the 
blood-red sky, and a steamship, somewhat nearer, 
passed along, leaving behind it a trail of smoke. 
The red sun-globe sank slowly lower and lower and 
presently touched the water just behind the motion- 
less vessel, which, in its dazzling effulgence, ap- 
peared to be framed in fire. We saw it plunge, 
grow smaller, and disappear, swallowed up by the 
ocean. 

"Miss Harriet gazed in rapture at the last gleams 
of the dying day. She seemed longing to embrace 
the sky, the sea, the whole landscape. 

"She murmured: 'Aoh! I love — I love — * I 
saw a tear in her eye. She continued: 'I wish I 
were a little bird, so that I could mount up into the 
firmament.* 

"She remained standing as I had often seen 
her, perched on the cliff, her face as red as her 
shawl. I should have liked to sketch her in my 
album. It would have been a caricature of ecstasy. 

"I turned away, so as not to laugh. 

" I then spoke to her of painting, as I would have 
spoken to a fellow artist, using the technical terms 



MISS HARRIET 97 

common in the profession. She listened attentively, 
eagerly seeking to divine the meaning of the terms, 
so as to understand my thoughts. From time to 
time she would exclaim : 'Oh ! I understand, I 
understand. It is very interesting.' 

"We returned home. 

"The next day, on seeing me, she approached 
me, cordially holding out her hand ; and we at once 
became firm friends. 

"She was a good creature who had a kind of soul 
on springs, which became enthusiastic at a bound. 
She lacked equilibrium, like all women who are 
spinsters at the age of fifty. She seemed to be pre- 
served in a pickle of innocence; but her heart still 
retained something very youthful and inflammable. 
She loved both nature and animals with a fervor, 
a love like old wine fermented through age, with a 
sensuous love that she never had bestowed on men. 

"One thing is certain, that the sight of a bitch 
nursing her puppies, a mare roaming in a meadow 
with a foal at its side, a bird's nest full of young 
ones, squeaking, with their open mouths and enor- 
mous heads, aflfected her perceptibly. 

"Poor, solitary, sad, pitiable beings! I have loved 
you ever since I became acquainted with that poor 
Miss Harriet! 

"I soon discovered that she had something she 
would like to tell me, but dared not, and I was 
amused at her timidity. When I set out in the 
morning with my knapsack, she accompanied me in 



98 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

silence as far as the end of the village, evidently 
struggling to find words with which to begin con- 
versation. Then she would leave me abruptly, and 
walk away quickly with her springy step. 

"One day, however, she plucked up courage: 

" *I should like to see how you paint pictures. 
Are you willing? I have been very curious.' 

"And she blushed as if she had said something 
very audacious. 

"I conducted her to the bottom of the Petit- Val, 
where I had begun a large picture. 

"She remained standing behind me, following 
all my motions with concentrated attention. Then, 
suddenly, fearing, perhaps, that she was disturbing 
me, she said 'Thank you,' and walked away. 

"But she soon became more friendly, and accom- 
panied me every day, her countenance exhibiting 
visible pleasure. She carried her camp-stool under 
her arm, not permitting me to carry it. She would 
remain there for hours, silent and motionless, fol- 
lowing with her eye the point of my brush in its 
every movement. When I obtained unexpectealy 
just the effect I wanted by a dash of color put on 
with the palette knife, she involuntarily uttered a 
little 'Ah!' of astonishment, of joy, of admiration. 
She had an almost religious respect for that human 
reproduction of a part of nature's work divine. 
My studies appeared to her a kind of religious pic- 
tures, and sometimes she spoke to me of God, with 
the idea of converting me. 



MISS HARRIET 99 

"Oh, he was a queer, good-natured being, this 
God of hers ! He was a sort of village philosopher 
without any great resources, and without great 
power; for she always figured him to herself 
as inconsolable over injustices committed under 
his eyes, if he were helpless to prevent them. 

"She was, however, on excellent terms with him, 
affecting even to be the confidante of his secrets 
and of his troubles. She would say : 

" 'God wills,' or 'God does not will,' just like a 
sergeant announcing: 'The colonel has commanded.' 

"At the bottom of her heart she deplored my 
ignorance of the intentions of the Eternal, which 
she endeavored to impart to me. 

"Almost every day I found in my pockets, in my 
hat when I lifted it from the ground, in my paint- 
box, in my polished shoes standing in front of my 
door in the morning, those little pious tracts which 
she, no doubt, received directly from Paradise. 

"I treated her as one would treat an old friend, 
with unaffected cordiality. But I soon perceived 
that she had changed somewhat in her manner; 
though, for a while, I paid little attention to it. 

"When I was painting, whether in my valley or 
in some country lane, I would see her suddenly ap- 
pear with her rapid, springy walk. She would then 
sit down abruptly, out of breath, as if she had 
been running, or were overcome by some profound 
emotion. Her face would be red, that English red 
which is denied to the people of all other countries ; 



100 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

then, without any reason, she would turn ashy pale 
and seem about to faint away. Gradually how- 
ever, her natural color returned and she would 
begin to speak. 

"Then, without warning, she would break off in 
the middle of a sentence, spring up from her seat, 
and walk away so rapidly and so strangely that I 
was at my wits' end to discover whether I had done 
or said anything to displease or wound her. 

"I finally came to the conclusion that those were 
her normal manners, somewhat modified, no doubt, 
in my honor during the first days of our acquaint- 
ance, 

"When she returned to the farm, after walking 
for hours on the windy coast, her long curls often 
hung straight down, as if their springs had been 
broken. Hitherto this had seldom given her any 
concern, and she would come to dinner without em- 
barrassment, all disheveled by her sister, the breeze. 
But now she would go to her room and arrange the 
untidy locks, and when I would say, with familiar 
gallantry, which, however, always ofifended her: 

" 'You are as beautiful as a star to-day, Miss 
Harriet,' a blush immediately rose to her cheeks, 
the blush of a young girl. 

"Then she would suddenly become quite re- 
served, and cease coming to see me paint. I 
thought, 'This is only a fit of temper; it will blow 
over.' But it did not always blow over, and when 
I spoke to her she answered me either with af- 
fected indifference or with sullen annoyance. 



MISS HARRIET 101 

"She became by turns rude, impatient, and ner- 
vous. I never saw her now except at meals, and we 
spoke but little. I concluded, at last, that I must 
have offended her in some way; and, accordingly, 
I said to her one evening : 

" 'Miss Harriet, why is it that you do not act 
toward me as formerly ? What have I done to dis- 
please you .'' You are causing me much pain.' 

"She replied, in a comical tone of anger: 

" 'I am just the same with you as formerly. It 
is not true, not true,' and she ran upstairs and shut 
herself in her room. 

"Occasionally she would look at me in a pecu- 
liar manner. I have often said to myself since 
then that those who are condemned to death must 
look thus when they are informed that their last 
day has come. In her eye lurked a species of in- 
sanity, at once mystical and violent ; and even more, 
a fever, an aggravated longing, impatient and im- 
potent, for the unattained and unattainable. 

" Nay, it seemed to me that there was also going 
on within her a struggle in which her heart wrestled 
with an unknown force that she sought to master, 
and even, perhaps, something else. But what do I 
know ? 

"This was indeed a singular revelation. 

" For some time I had begun to work, as soon as 
daylight appeared, on a picture the subject of which 
was this : 

"A deep ravine, inclosed, surmounted by two 



102 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

thickets of trees and vines, extended into the dis- 
tance and was lost, submerged in that milky vapor, 
in that cloudlike thistledown that sometimes floats 
over valleys at daybreak. And at the extreme end 
of that heavy transparent fog one saw, or, rather, 
surmised, that two human beings were approach- 
ing, a youth and a maiden, their arms interlaced, 
embracing each other, their heads inclined toward 
each other, and their lips meeting. A first ray of 
the sun, glistening through the branches, pierced 
that fog of the dawn, illuminated it with a rosy 
reflection, just behind the rustic lovers, framing 
their vague shadows in a silvery background. It 
was well done; yes, indeed, well done. 

"I was working on the declivity that led to 
the Valley of Etretat. On this particular morning 
I had, by chance, the sort of floating vapor which 
I needed. Suddenly something rose in front of 
me like a phantom ; it was Miss Harriet. On seeing 
me she was about to flee. But I called after her, 
saying: 'Come here, come here, Mademoiselle. I 
have a nice little picture for you.' 

"She came forward, though with seeming re- 
luctance, and I handed her my sketch. She 
said nothing, but stood for a long time motionless, 
looking at it ; and suddenly she burst into tears. 
She wept spasmodically, like men who have striven 
hard to restrain their tears, but who, unable to do 
so longer, abandon themselves to grief, though still 
resisting. I sprang to my feet, moved at the sight 



MISS HARRIET 103 

of a sorrow I did not comprehend, and I took her 
by the hand with an impulse of brusque affection, 
a true French impulse which acts before it reflects. 

"She let her hands rest in mine for a few sec- 
onds, and I felt them quiver as if all her nerves 
were being wrenched. Then she withdrew her 
hands abruptly, or, rather, snatched them away. 

'' I recognized that tremor, for I had felt it, and 
I could not be deceived. Ah ! the love tremor of a 
woman, whether she be fifteen or fifty yeais of age, 
whether she be of the people or of society, goes so 
straight to my heart that I never have any hesita- 
tion in understanding it. 

"Her whole frail being had trembled, vibrated, 
been overcome. I knew it. She walked away be- 
fore I had time to say a word, leaving me as sur- 
prised as if I had witnessed a miracle and as 
troubled as if I had committed a crime. 

"I did not go in to breakfast. I went to take 
a turn on the edge of the cliff, feeling that I would 
just as lief weep as laugh, looking on the adven- 
ture as both comic and deplorable, and my position 
as ridiculous, believing her unhappy enough to be- 
come insane. 

'*I asked myself what I ought to do. It seemed 
best for me to leave the place, and I immediately 
resolved to do so. 

" Somewhat sad and perplexed, I wandered about 
until dinner time, and entered the farmhouse just 
when the soup had been served. 



104 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"I took my seat at the table as usual. Miss Har- 
riet was there, eating away solemnly, without 
speaking to any one, without even lifting her eyes. 
Her manner and expression were, however, the 
same as usual. 

"I waited patiently till the meal had been fin- 
ished, when, turning toward the landlady, I said: 
'Madame Lecacheur, it will not be long now before 
I shall have to take my leave of you.' 

"The good woman, at once surprised and 
troubled, replied in her drawling voice: *My dear 
sir, what is it you say? You are going to leave us 
after I have become so accustomed to you?* 

"I glanced at Miss Harriet out of the corner of 
my eye. Her countenance did not change in the 
least. But Celeste, the little servant, looked up at 
me. She was a fat girl, about eighteen years of 
age, rosy, fresh, as strong as a horse, and possess- 
ing the rare attribute of cleanliness. I had kissed 
her at odd times in out-of-the-way corners, after 
the manner of travelers — nothing more. 

"The dinner being at length over, I went to 
smoke my pipe under the apple-trees, walking up 
and down from one end of the inclosure to the 
other. All the reflections I had made during the 
day, the strange discovery of the morning, that 
passionate and grotesque attachment for me, the 
recollections which that revelation had suddenly 
called up, at once charming and perplexing, per- 
haps, also, that look which the servant had cast on 



MISS HARRIET 105 

me at the announcement of my departure — all these 
things, combined, put me now in a reckless humor, 
gave me a tickling sensation of kisses on the lips, 
and in my veins a something that urged me on 
to commit some folly. 

"Night was coming on, casting its dark shadows 
under the trees, when I descried Celeste, who had 
gone to fasten up the poultry-yard at the other end 
of the inclosure. I darted toward hei, running so 
noiselessly that she heard nothing, and as she got 
up from closing the small trapdoor by which the 
chickens got in and out, I clasped her in my arms 
and rained on her coarse, fat face a shower of 
kisses. She struggled, laughing all the time, as she 
was accustomed to do in such circumstances. Why 
did I suddenly loosen my grip of her? Why did 
I at once experience a shock? What was it that 
I heard behind me? 

"It was Miss Harriet, who had come upon us, 
who had seen us, and who stood in front of us 
motionless as a spectre. Then she disappeared in 
the darkness. 

"I was ashamed, embarrassed, more desperate 
than if she had caught me in some criminal act. 

" I slept badly that night ; I was completely un- 
nerved and haunted by sad thoughts. I seemed to 
hear loud weeping, but in this I was no doubt de- 
ceived. Moreover, I thought several times that I 
heard some one walking up and down in the house 
and opening the hall door. 



106 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"Toward morning, overcome by fatigue, I fell 
asleep. I got up late and did not go downstairs 
until the late breakfast, being still in a bewildered 
state, not knowing what kind of expression to 
put on, 

"No one had seen Miss Harriet. We waited for 
her at table, but she did not appear. At last 
Mother Lecacheur went to her room. The English 
woman had gone out. She must have set out at 
break of day, as she was wont to do, in order to see 
the sun rise. 

"Nobody seemed surprised at this, and we began 
to eat in silence. 

"The weather was very hot, one of those broil- 
ing, heavy days when not a leaf stirs. The table 
had been placed out of doors, under an apple-tree ; 
and from time to time Sapeur had gone to the cel- 
lar to draw a jug of cider, everybody was so 
thirsty. Celeste brought the dishes from the 
kitchen, a ragoiit of mutton with potatoes, a cold 
rabbit, and a salad. Afterward she placed before 
us a dish of strawberries, the first of the season. 

"As I wished to wash and freshen these, I 
asked the servant to draw me a pitcher of cold 
water. 

"In about five minutes she returned, declaring 
that the well was dry. She had lowered the pitcher 
to the full extent of the cord, and had touched the 
bottom, but when she drew up the pitcher it was 
empty. Mother Lecacheur, anxious to examine the 



MISS HARRIET 107 

thing for herself, went out and did so. She re- 
turned, announcing that one could see clearly some- 
thing in the well, something altogether unusual. 
But this, no doubt, was bundles of straw, which a 
neighbor had thrown in out of spite. 

"I also wished to look down the well, hoping I 
might be able to clear up the mystery, and I 
perched myself close to the brink. I perceived in- 
distinctly a white object. What could it be? I 
then conceived the idea of lowering a lantern at the 
end of a cord. When I did so the yellow flame 
danced on the layers of stone and gradually became 
clearer. All four of us were leaning over the open- 
ing, Sapeur and Celeste having now joined us. 
The lantern rested on a black-and-white indistinct 
mass, singular, incomprehensible. Sapeur ex- 
claimed : 

"It is a horse. I see the hoofs. It must have 
got out of the pasture in the night and fallen in.'* 

''But suddenly a cold shiver froze me to the mar- 
row. I first recognized a foot, then a leg sticking 
up; the whole body and the other leg were com- 
pletely under water. 

"I stammered out in a loud voice, trembling so 
violently that the lantern danced hither and thither 
over the slipper. 

" 'It is a woman! who — who can it be? It is 
Miss Harriet.' 

"Sapeur alone did not manifest horror. He had 
witnessed many such scenes in Africa. 



108 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"Mother Lecacheur and Celeste uttered piercing 
screams and ran away. 

"But it was necessary to recover the corpse of 
the dead woman. I attached the young man se- 
curely by the waist to the end of the pulley rope 
and lowered him very slowly. In one hand he held 
the lantern, and in the other a rope. Soon I recog- 
nized his voice, which seemed to come from the 
center of the earth, crying: 'Stop!' 

"I then saw him fish something out of the water. 
It was the other leg. He then bound the two feet 
together and shouted anew : 

" 'Haul up !' 

"I began to wind up, but I felt my arms crack, 
my muscles twitch, and I was in terror lest I should 
let the man fall to the bottom. When his head ap- 
peared at the brink I asked : 

" 'Well?' as if I expected he had a message 
from the drowned woman. 

"We both got on the stone slab at the edge of 
the well and from opposite sides we began to haul 
up the body. 

" Mother Lecacheur and Celeste watched us from 
a distance, concealed behind the wall of the house. 
When they saw issuing from the hole the black 
slippers and white stockings of the drowned per- 
son they disappeared. 

"Sapeur seized the ankles, and we drew up the 
body of the poor woman. The head was shocking 
to look at, being bruised and lacerated, and the long 



MISS HARRIET 109 

gray hair, out of curl forever, hanging down, 
tangled and disordered. 

" 'In the name of all that is holy, how lean she 
is !' exclaimed Sapeur, in a contemptuous tone. 

"We carried her into the room, and as the 
women did not put in an appearance I, with the as- 
sistance of the stable lad, dressed the corpse for 
burial. 

"I washed her disfigured face. Under the touch 
of my finger an eye was slightly opened and re- 
garded me with that pale, cold look, that terrible 
look of a corpse which seems to come from the be- 
yond. I braided as well as I could her disheveled 
hair, and with my clumsy hands arranged on her 
head a novel and singular coiffure. Then I took off 
her dripping, wet garments, baring, not without a 
feeling of shame, as if I had been guilty of some 
profanation, her shoulders and her chest and her 
long arms, as slim as the twigs of a tree. 

**I next went to fetch some flowers, poppies, 
bluets, marguerites, and fresh, sweet-smelling grass 
with which to strew her funeral couch. 

"I then had to go through the usual formalities, 
as I was alone to attend to everything. A letter 
found in her pocket, written at the last moment, re- 
quested that her body be buried in the village in 
which she had passed the last days of her life. A 
sad suspicion weighed on my heart. Was it not on 
my account that she wished to be laid to rest in 
this place? 

Vol. 2—8 



110 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"Toward evening all the female gossips of the 
locality came to view the remains ; but I would not 
allow a single person to enter; I desired to be 
alone, and I watched beside her all night. 

"I looked at the corpse by the flickering light 
of the candles, at this unhappy woman, unknown to 
us all, who had died in such a lamentable manner 
and so far away from home. Had she left no 
friends, no relatives behind her? What had her 
infancy been? What had been her life? Whence 
had she come thither all alone, a wanderer, lost like 
a dog driven from home? What secrets of suffer- 
ings and of despair were sealed up in that poor 
body whose outward appearance had driven from 
her all affection, all love? 

"How many unhappy beings there are! I felt 
that the eternal injustice of implacable nature 
weighed upon that human creature. It was all 
over with her, without her ever having experienced, 
perhaps, that which sustains the greatest outcasts 
— to wit, the hope of being loved once ! Otherwise, 
why should she thus have concealed herself, fled 
from the face of others ? Why did she love every- 
thing so tenderly and so passionately, everything 
living that was not a man ? 

"I recognized, also, that she believed in a God, 
and that she hoped to receive compensation from 
Him for all the miseries she had endured. She 
would now disintegrate and become, in turn, a 
plant. She would blossom in the sun, the cattle 



MISS HARRIET 111 

would browse on her leaves, the birds would bear 
away the seeds, and through these changes she 
would become again human flesh. But that which 
is called the soul had been extinguished at the bot- 
tom of the dark well. She suffered no longer. 
She had given her life for that of others yet to 
come. 

"Hours passed away in this silent and sinister 
communion with the dead. A pale light at last 
announced the dawn of a new day ; then a red ray 
streamed in on the bed, making a bar of light across 
the coverlet and across her hands. This was the 
hour she had so much loved. The awakened birds 
began to sing in the trees. 

"I opened the window wide and threw back the 
curtains, that the whole heavens might look in 
upon us, and, bending over the icy corpse, I took 
in my hands the mutilated head and slowly, with- 
out terror or disgust, I imprinted a kiss, a long 
kiss, upon those lips which never before had been 
kissed." 

Leon Chenal remained silent. The women wept. 
We heard on the box seat the Comte d'Etraille 
blowing his nose from time to time. The coachman 
alone had gone to sleep. The horses, which felt 
no longer the sting of the whip, had slackened their 
pace and dragged along slowly. The drag, hardly 
advancing at all, seemed suddenly torpid, as if it 
had been freighted with sorrow. 



MAD! 

I 

DURING days and days, nights and nights, I 
had dreamed of the first kiss that was to con- 
secrate our engagement, but I knew not on 
what spot I should lay my lips. Not on her forehead 
— that was accustomed to family caresses — nor 
on her fair hair, which menial hands had dressed, 
nor on her eyes, whose curved lashes looked like 
little wings, because that would have made me 
think of the farewell kiss which closes the eyelids 
of some dead woman whom one has adored, nor 
on her lovely mouth, which I will not, which I 
must not, possess until that divine moment when 
Elaine will at last belong to me altogether and 
forever ; but on that delicious little dimple which 
comes in one of her cheeks when she is happy, 
when she smiles, and which excited me as much 
as did her voice with its languorous softness, on 
that evening when our love-affair began, at the Sou- 
verettes' house. 

Our parents had gone out of doors and were 
walking slowly under the chestnut-trees in the gar- 

112 



MAD! 113 

den, leaving us entirely alone for a short time. I 
went up to her, clasped both her hands in mine, 
which wjre trembling, and gently drawing her close 
to me, I whispered: "How happy I am, Elaine, 
and how I love you!" and I kissed her almost 
timidly, on the dimple. 

She trembled, as if from the sting of a burn, 
blushed deeply, and with an affectionate look she 
said: "I love you too, Jacques, and I am very 
happy !" 

That embarrassment, that sudden emotion which 
revealed the perfect spotlessness of a pure mind, 
the instinctive shrinking of virginity, that childlike 
innocence, that blush of modesty, delighted me 
above everything as a presage of happiness. It 
seemed to me as if I were unworthy of her ; I was 
almost ashamed of bringing to her and putting into 
her small, saintlike hands the remains of a damaged 
heart, which had been polluted by debauchery ; that 
miserable thing which had served as a plaything for 
unworthy mistresses, which was saturated with lies, 
and felt as if it would die of bitterness and disgust. 



II 



How soon she has become accustomed to me, 
how suddenly she has turned into a woman and 
become metamorphosed ! She is no longer at all 
like the artless girl, the sensitive child, to whom I 



114 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

did not know what to say, and whose sudden ques- 
tions disconcerted me. 

She is coquettish, and there is seduction in her 
attitudes, in her gestures, in her laugh, and in her 
touch. One might fancy that she is trying her 
power over me, and that she suspects I no longer 
have any will of my own. She does with me what- 
ever she likes, and I am quite incapable of resisting 
the charm that emanates from her; I feel trans- 
ported, by the touch of her caressing hands, and so 
happy that I am at times frightened at my own 
felicity. 

My life now passes amid the most delicious of 
punishments : afternoons and evenings which we 
spend together, unconstrained moments when, as 
we sit on the sofa together, she lays her head on 
my shoulder, holds my hands, and half closes her 
beautiful eyes while we decide what our future 
life shall be; when I cover her face with kisses 
and inhale the odor of that soft, fluffy hair, which 
is as fine as silk, like a nimbus round her imperial 
brow. All this excites me, unsettles me, kills me, 
and yet I feel ready to weep when the time comes 
for us to part, and I really exist only when I am 
with Elaine. 

I can hardly sleep ; I fancy I see her rise in the 
darkness, delicate, fair, and rosy, so supple, so ele- 
gant with her small waist and tiny hands and feet, 
her graceful head, and that look of mockery and 
coaxing which lies in her smile, that dawn-like 



MAD! 115 

brightness which illuminates her glance; and when 
I think that she is to be my wife, I long to sing, 
to shout my amorous folly in the silence of the 
night. 

Elaine, too, seems to be at the end of her 
strength ; she has grown languid and nervous ; she 
would like to bridge over the fortnight that we still 
have to wait ; and so little does she hide her long- 
ing that one of her uncles, Colonel d'Orthez, said 
after dinner the other evening: ''My dear children, 
one would think you were two soldiers looking for- 
ward to a leave of absence!" 



Ill 



I DO not know what has influenced me, or 
whence come those fears that have suddenly as- 
sailed me, and taken possession of my whole being, 
like a flight of poisoned arrows. The nearer the 
day approaches that I am so ardently longing for, 
on which Elaine will take my name and belong to 
me, the more anxious, nervous, and tormented I 
feel by the uncertainty of the morrow. 

I love and I am passionately loved, and few 
married pairs set out on the unknown journey of a 
totally new life and enter matrimony with such 
hopes, and the same assurance of happiness, as we 
two. 



116 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

I have so much faith in the girl I am to marry, 
and have made her such vows of love, that I should 
certainly kill myself without a moment's hesitation 
if anything were to happen to separate us, to force 
us to a necessary and irremediable rupture, or 
if Elaine were seized by some illness which shovld 
carry her off quickly. And yet I hesitate, I am 
afraid, for I know that many others have wrecked 
everything, have lost their love on the way, disen- 
chanted their wives, and have themselves been dis- 
enchanted in those first essays of possession. 

What does Elaine expect in her vague innocence, 
which has perhaps been lessened by the half-con- 
fidences of married friends, by semi-avowals, by all 
the kisses of this sort of apprenticeship, which is 
a court of love? What does she possess? What 
does she hope for ? Oh ! to think that one is risk- 
ing one's whole future happiness at a game so 
hazardous that the merest trifle might make a man 
completely ridiculous or hopeful, and make an idol- 
ized woman smile or weep ! 

I do not know a more desirable, a prettier, or a 
more attractive being in the whole v/orld than 
Elaine ; I am exhausted by feverish love, and I wish 
every particle of her being to belong to me ; I love 
her ardently, but I would willingly give half I 
possess to have gone through this ordeal, to be a 
week older and still happy! 



MAD! 117 

IV 



My prospective mother-in-law spoke to me aside 
yesterday, while they were dancing, and with tears 
in her eyes she said in a tremulous voice: 

"You are about to possess the most precious 
object we have here, and what we love best — 
I beg you to spare her the slightest unhappiness, 
and to be kind and gentle toward her. I count 
on your uprightness and affection to guide her and 
protect her in this dangerous life of Paris." 

Then, yielding to her feelings more and more, 
she added: "I do not think that you suppose I 
have tried to instruct her in her new duties or to 
disturb her charming innocence, which is the result 
of my care; when two persons worship each other 
as you two do, a girl learns what she is ignorant 
of so quickly and so well !" 

I almost burst out laughing in her face, for so 
theatrical a phrase appeared to me both ridiculous 
and doubtful. So that respectable woman had always 
been a passive, pliable, inert object, who never 
had had one moment of vibration, of tender emo- 
tion in her husband's arms ; I understood the rea- 
son why, as I wasted time at the clubs, he escaped 
from her as soon as possible and formed other 
liaisons which cost him dear, but in which he found 
at least some semblance of love. 

And that piece of advice, at the last moment, so 



118 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

commonplace and so natural, which I ought to have 
expected, has made me nervous and in spite of 
myself has plunged me into a state of perplexity 
from which I can not extricate myself. I remem- 
ber those absurd stories we hear among friends, 
after a good dinner. What will be that supreme 
trial of our love, for her and for me, and will that 
love which now was my whole life come out of 
the ordeal lessened or increased tenfold? I 
looked at the couch on which Elaine, my adored 
Elaine, was sitting, with her head half-hidden be- 
hind the feathers of her fan, and she whispered 
in a rather vexed voice: 

''How cross you look, my dear Jacques 1 Is it 
because you are to be married? And you have 
such a mocking look on your face! If the thought 
of it terrifies you too much, there is still time to 
say no! 

Delighted, bewitched by her caressing glances, 
I said in a low voice, in her tiny ear : 

"I adore you; and these last moments that still 
separate us seem centuries to me, my dear Elaine !" 



V 



Tiresome ceremonies occupied yesterday and 

to-day, which I went through almost mechanically. 

First, there was the yes before the Mayor at the 



MAD! 119 

civil ceremony, like some everyday response in 
church, which one is in a hurry to get over, and 
which has almost the suggestion of an imperious 
law, to which one is bound to submit, and of a state 
of bondage, which will, perhaps, be very irksome, 
since the whole of existence is made up of chance. 

Then the service in church, with the decorated 
altar, the voices of the choir, the solemn music of 
the organ, the unctuous address of the old priest, 
who emphasized his periods, and who seemed quite 
proud of having prepared Elaine for confirmation ; 
then the procession of the vestry, the hand-shaking, 
and the greetings of people whom one hardly sees, 
and whom one may or may not recognize. 

Under the long tulle veil, which almost covered 
her, with the symbolical orange-blossoms on her 
bright, fair hair, in her white robes, with her down- 
cast eyes and her graceful figure, Elaine looked 
to me like a Psyche, whose innocent heart was 
dedicated to love. I felt how vain and artificial 
all this form was, how little this show counted 
before the kiss, the triumphant, revealing, mad- 
dening kiss, which sealed our nuptial vow. 



VI 



Elaine loves me as much as I adore her. 

She left her parental dwelling as if she were go- 



120 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

ing to some festivity, without once turning back to 
look upon all that she had left behind, in the way of 
affection and recollection, and without even a fare- 
well tear. 

She looked like a bird escaped from its cage 
and which does not know where to settle, which 
beats its wings in the intoxication of the light and 
warbles incessantly. She repeated the same words, 
as if she were dazed, and her laugh sounded like 
the cooing of a pigeon ; and looking into my eyes, 
with her eyes full of languor and her arms round 
my neck like a bracelet, and with her burning 
cheek against mine, she suddenly exclaimed : 

"My darling, would you not give ten years of 
your life to have already reached the end of the 
journey ?" 

This question so disconcerted me that I did not 
know what to reply; my brain reeled, as if I had 
been at the edge of a precipice. Did she already 
know what her mother had not told her? Had she 
already learned that of which she should have 
been ignorant? Had that heart, which I used to 
compare to the Vessel of Election, of which the 
litanies of Our Lady speak, already been damaged ? 

Oh, white veil, which hid the blushes, the half- 
closed eyes, and the trembling lips of a Psyche; 
oh, little hands which you raised in an attitude 
of prayer toward the lighted and decorated altar; 
oh, innocent and charming questions, which de- 
lighted me to the depths of my being, and which 



MAD ! 121 

seemed to me to be an absolute promise of happi- 
ness, were you nothing but a lie, and a wonderfully 
well-acted piece of trickery? 

But was I not wrong, and an idiot, to allow such 
thoughts to take possession of me and to poison 
my deep, absorbing love, which was now my only 
law and my only object, by odious and foolish sug- 
gestions? What an abject and miserable nature I 
must have, for so simple, affectionate, and natural 
a question to disturb me so, when I ought immedi- 
ately to have replied to Elaine's question, with all 
my heart that belonged to her : 

"Yes, ten or twenty years, because you are now 
my happiness, my desire, my love!" 



VII 



Elaine was still sleeping when I arose, and I 
did not wish to wait until she awoke. Her com- 
plexion was almost transparent, her lips were half- 
open, as if she were dreaming, and she seemed so 
overcome with sleep that I felt much emotion when 
I looked at her. 

I drank four glasses of champagne, one after an- 
other, as quickly as I could, but it did not quench 
my thirst. I was feverish, and would have given 
anything in the world for something to interest me 
suddenly, to absorb me and lift me out of that 



122 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

slough in which my heart and my brain were being 
engulfed, as if in a quicksand. I did not venture 
to own to myself what was making me mad with 
grief, or to scrutinize the muddy bottom of my 
present thoughts sincerely and courageously, to 
question myself and to pull myself together. 

It would have been so odious, so infamous, to 
harbor such suspicions unjustly, to accuse that 
adorable creature who was not yet twenty, whom I 
loved and who seemed to love me, without having 
certain proofs, that I felt that I was blushing at the 
idea that I had any doubt of her innocence. Ah ! 
Why did I marry ? 

I had a sufficient income to enable me to live as 
I liked, to play the gallant to beautiful women who 
pleased me, whom I chanced to meet and who 
amused me, and who sometimes gave me unex- 
pected proofs of affection ; but I never had allowed 
myself to be caught altogether, and in order to keep 
my heart warm I had some romantic and senti- 
mental friendships with women in society, some of 
those delightful flirtations which have an appear- 
ance of love, which fill up the idleness of a useless 
life with a number of unexpected sensations, with 
small duties and vague, subtle pleasures! 

And was I now destined to be like one of those 
ships which an unskilful turn of the helm runs 
ashore as it is leaving the harbor? What terrible 
trials were awaiting me, what sorrows and what 
struggles ? 



MAD ! 123 

A humorous friend said to me one night in jest 
at the club, when I had just broken one of those 
banks which form an epoch in a player's life : 

"If I were in your place, Jacques, I should dis- 
trust such runs of luck as that, for one always has 
to pay for them sooner or later 1" 

Sooner or later! 

I half opened the bedroom door gently. Elaine 
was in one of those heavy sleeps similar to those 
that follow intoxication. Who could tell whether, 
when she opened her eyes and called me, surprised 
at not finding me, her whole being would not be- 
come languid, and suddenly sink into a state of 
prostration? I wished to reason with myself, and 
bring myself face to face with those cursed sug- 
gestions, as one does with a skittish horse before 
some object that frightens it, and to evoke the 
recollection of every hour, every minute, of that 
first night, and to extract her secret from her. 

Elaine's looks and radiant smile were overflow- 
ing with happiness, and she had the air of a con- 
queror who is proud of his triumph, for she was 
now a woman, and we had at least been alone in 
this modernized country house, which had been 
redecorated and brightened up to serve as the frame 
for our affection! She hardly seemed to know 
what she was saying or doing, and ran from room 
to room in her light negligee of mauve crape, with- 
out exactly knowing where to sit, and was almost 
dazzled by the light of the lamps that had large 
shades made like rose-leaves over them. 



124 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

There was no embarrassment, no hesitation, no 
shy looks, no recoiling from the arms that were 
stretched out to her ; none of those delightful little 
acts of awkwardness that show a virgin soul free 
from all perversion, in her manner of sitting on my 
knees, of putting her bare arms round my neck. 
She laughed nervously, and her supple form trem- 
bled when I kissed her, and she said things to me 
that were only suitable to be whispered, while a 
strange languor overshadowed her eyes and dilated 
her nostrils. 

Suddenly, with a mocking gesture which seemed 
to bid defiance to the repast that was laid on a 
small table — cold meat of various kinds, plates of 
fruit and cakes, the ice-pail, from which the neck 
of a bottle of champagne protruded — she said 
merrily : 

"I am not at all hungry, dear; let us not eat 
until later; what do you say?" 

She half turned round to the large bed, which 
looked white in the shadow of the recess in which 
it stood, with its two untouched pillows, almost 
solemn in their whiteness. She was not smiling any 
more ; there was a bluish gleam in her eyes, like 
that of burning alcohol, and I lost my head. Elaine 
did not try to escape, and did not utter a com- 
plaint. 

Oh, that night of torture and delight, that night 
which should never have ended ! 

I determined that I would be as patient as a 



MAD! 125 

detective who is trying to discover the traces of 
a crime; that I would investigate the past of this 
girl, about which I knew nothing, as I should be 
sure to discover some proof, some important rem- 
iniscence, some servant who had been her accom- 
plice. 

And yet I adored her, my pretty, my divine 
Elaine, and I would consent to no matter what if 
only she were what I dreamed her, what I wished 
her to be, if only this nightmare would go and no 
longer rise between her and me. 

When she awoke she spoke to me in her coaxing 
voice. Oh, her kisses, again her kisses, always her 
kisses, in spite of everything! 

Oh, to have believed blindly, to have believed 
on my knees that she was not lying, that she was 
not making a mockery of my tenderness, and that 
she never had belonged, and never would belong, 
to anyone but me! 



VIII 



I WISHED that I could transform myself into 
one of those crafty, oily-tongued priests to whom 
women confess their most secret faults, to whom 
they intrust their souls and frequently ask for ad- 
vice, and that Elaine would come and kneel at the 
grating of the confessional, where I should press 

Vol. 2—9 



126 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

her closely with questions, and gradually extract 
sincere confidences from her. 

Nowadays, as soon as I am by the side of a 
young or old married woman I try to give our con- 
versation a knowing turn ; I forget all reserve, and 
I try to make her talk on the only subject that 
interests and holds me, to extract from her, if possi- 
ble, a recital of her true heart secrets. Was she 
shy or bold in the presence of her husband in those 
first days of their married life? Some do not ap- 
pear to understand me, blush, leave me as if I were 
some unpleasant, ill-mannered person and had of- 
fended them; as if I had tried to force open the 
precious casket in which they keep their sweetest 
recollections. 

Others understand me only too well, scent somer 
thing equivocal and ridiculous, though they do not 
exactly know what, make me go on, and finally get 
out of the difficulty by some subtle piece of imperti- 
nence and a burst of mocking laughter. 

Two or three at most — and they were those 
pretty little upstarts who talk recklessly and boast 
about their vice, and whom one could soon not leave 
a leg to stand upon were one to take the trouble — 
have related their impressions to me with ironical 
complaisance, and I found nothing in what they told 
me that reassured me, nor could I discover any- 
thing serious, true, or moving in it. 

That supreme initiation amused them as much 
as if it had been a scene from a comedy ; the small 



MAD! 127 

amount of affection that they felt for the man with 
whom their existence had been welded grew less 
and evaporated altogether — and they remembered 
nothing about it except its ridiculous and hateful 
side, and described it as a sort of pantomime in 
which they played a bad part. But these did not 
love, and were not adored as Elaine was. They 
married either from interest, or that they might not 
remain old maids; that they might have more lib- 
erty and escape from troublesome guardianship. 

Silly dolls, without either heart or head, they 
had neither that almost diseased nervosity, nor that 
need of affection, nor that instinct of love which 
I discovered in my wife's nature, and which at- 
tracted me at the same time that it terrified me. 

Besides, who could convince me of my errors? 
Who could dissipate that darkness in which I was 
lost? What miracle could restore all my belief in 
her again? 



IX 



Elaine knew that I was hiding something from 
her, that I was unhappy; that, as it were, some 
threatening obstacle had risen between her and 
me, that some unbearable suspicion was oppress- 
ing me, torturing me, and keeping me from her 
arms, poisoning and disturbing that affection in 



128 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

which I had hoped to find fresh youth, absolute 
happiness, my dream of dreams. 

She never spoke to me about it, but seemed to 
shrink from a definite explanation which might 
wreck her love. She surrounded me with endear- 
ing attentions, and appeared to be trying to make 
my life so pleasant to me that nothing in the world 
could draw me from it. And she would certainly 
cure me, if this madness of mine were not, alas! 
like those wounds that are continually reopening, 
and that no balm can heal. 

At times I lived again; I imagined that her 
caresses had exorcised me, that I was saved, that 
doubt was no longer gnawing at my heart, that I 
should adore her again as before. I would throw 
myself at her knees and put my lips on her little 
hands, which she abandoned to me; I looked at 
her lovely, limpid eyes as if they had been bits of 
a blue sky that appeared amid black storm-clouds, 
and I whispered, with something like a sob in my 
throat : 

"You love me, do you not, with all your heart, 
you love me as much as I love you ; tell me so 
again, my dear love; tell me that, and nothing but 
that !" 

And she used to reply eagerly, with a smile of 
joy on her lips: 

"Do you not know it? Do you not see every 
moment that I love you, that you have taken entire 
possession of me, and that I live only for you and 
by you?" 



MAD! 129 

And her kisses gave me new life, and intoxicated 
me, as when one returns from a long journey, 
having been in peril, and despairing of ever seeing 
some beloved object again, and meets with a sort of 
frenzied embrace, forgetting everything in that 
divine feeling that one is about to die of happiness. 



These, however, were only ephemeral clear spots 
in our domestic sky, and the crises that accom- 
panied them only grew more bitter and terrible. 1 
knew that Elaine was growing more and more 
uneasy at the apparent strangeness of my character, 
that she suffered from it, and that it affected her 
nerves ; that the existence to which I was condemn- 
ing her in spite of myself, that all this immoderate 
love of mine, followed by fits of inexplicable cold- 
ness and melancholy, disconcerted her, so that she 
was no longer the same, and kept away from me. 
She could not hide her grief, and was continually 
worrying me with questions of affectionate pity. 
She repeated the same things over and over again, 
with hateful persistence. Had she vexed me, with- 
out knowing it? Was I already tired of married 
life, and did I regret my lost liberty? Had I any 
private troubles of which I had not told her ; heavy 
debts which I did not know how to pay? Was it 



130 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

family matters or some former connection with a 
woman that I had broken off suddenly, which now 
threatened to create a scandal? Was I being wor- 
ried by anonymous letters? What was it, in a 
word? What was it? 

My denials only exasperated her, so that she 
sulked in silence, while her brain worked and her 
heart grew hard toward me; but could I tell her 
of the suspicions that were filling my life with 
gloom and annihilating me? Would it not be 
odious and vile to accuse her of a fall, without any 
proofs or any clue, and would she ever forget 
such an insult? 

I almost envied those unfortunate wretches who 
had a right to be jealous, who had to fight against 
a woman's coquettish and light behavior, and who 
had to defend their honor when it was threatened 
by some poacher on the preserves of love. They 
had a target to aim at ; they knew their enemies and 
knew what they were doing; while I was wander- 
ing in a land of terrible mirages, was struggling in 
the midst of vague suppositions, was causing my 
own troubles, and was enraged with her past, which 
was, I had felt sure, as white and pure as any 
bridal veil. 

Ah, it would be better to blow my brains out, 
I thought to myself, than to prolong such a situa- 
tion ! I had had enough of it. I hardly lived, and 
I wished to know all that Elaine had done before 
we became engaged. I wished to know whether I 



MAD! 131 

was the first or the second, and I determined to 
know it, too, even if I had to sacrifice years of my 
fife in inquiry, and to lower myself to compromising 
words and acts, to every species of artifice, and to 
spend everything that I possessed ! 

She might believe whatever she liked, for after 
all I should only laugh at it. We might have been 
so happy, and there were so many who envied me, 
and who would gladly have consented to take my 
place ! 



XI 



I NO longer knew where I was going, but was 
like a train dashing at full speed through a dense 
fog, disturbing in vain the perfect silence of the 
sleeping country with its puffing and shrill whistles, 
when the engineer cannot distinguish the changing 
lights of the disks nor the signals, and when soon 
some terrible crash will send the train off the rails, 
and the carriages will become a heap of ruins. 

I was afraid of going mad, and at times I asked 
myself whether any of my family had shown any 
signs of mental aberration and had been locked up 
in a hospital for the insane, and whether the life 
of continual pleasure, of turning night into day, 
and of frequent violent emotions, that I had led for 
years, had not at last affected my brain. If I had 



132 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

believed in anything, and in the science of the 
occult, which haunts so many restless brains, I 
should have imagined that some enemy was be- 
witching me and laying invisible snares for me, that 
he was suggesting those actions which were quite 
unworthy of the frank, upright, and well-bred man 
that I was, and was trying to destroy the happi- 
ness of which Elaine and I had dreamed. 

During a whole week I devoted myself to that 
hateful business of playing the spy, and to those in- 
quiries that were torturing me. I had succeeded in 
discovering the lady's-maid who had been in 
Elaine's service before we were married, and whom 
she loved as if she had been her foster sister, who 
used to accompany her whenever she went out, 
when she went to visit the poor and when she went 
for a walk; who used to wake her every morning, 
arrange her hair, and dress her. She was young 
and rather pretty, and one saw that Paris had im- 
proved her and given her a polish, and that she 
knew her difficult business thoroughly. 

I had discovered, however, that her virtue w?s 
only apparent, especially since she had changed 
employers ; that she was fond of going to the public 
balls, and that she divided her favors between a 
man who came from her part of the country (and 
who was a sergeant in a dragoon regiment) and a 
footman, and that she spent all her money on the 
races and on dress. I felt sure that I should be 
able to make her talk and get the truth out of her. 



MAD ! 133 

either by money or cunning, and so I asked her to 
meet me early one morning in a quiet square. 

She listened to me at first in astonishment, with- 
out replying yes or no, as if she did not understand 
what I was aiming at, or with what object I was 
asking her all these questions about her former 
mistress; but when I offered her a few hundred 
francs to loosen her tongue, as I was impatient to 
get the matter over and pretended to know that she 
had managed interviews for Elaine with her lovers, 
that they were known and followed, that she was 
in the habit of frequenting quiet bachelors' quarters, 
from which she returned late, the sly little wench 
frowned, shrugged her shoulders, and exclaimed: 

"What brutes some men are to have such ideas, 
and to cause such a good young lady as Made- 
moiselle Elaine any unhapiness ! I tell you, you 
disgust me with your banknotes and your dirty 
hints, and I don't choose to say what you ought to 
wear on your head!" 

She turned her back on me and hurried off, but 
her insolence, that indignant reply which she had 
given me, rejoiced me to the depths of my heart, 
like soothing balm that lulls pain. 

I should have liked to call her back and tell 
her that it was all a joke, that I was devotedly in 
love with my wife, that I was always listening 
to hear her praised ; but she was already out of 
sight, and I felt that I was ridiculous and mean, 
that I had lowered myself by what I had done, and 



134 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

I swore that I would profit by such a humiliating 
lesson, and for the future show myself to Elaine as 
the trusting and ardent husband she deserved, and 
I thought myself cured, altogether cured. 

Yet I was again a prey to the same bad thoughts, 
to the same doubts, and was sure that that girl had 
lied to me as all women lie when they are on the 
defensive, that she had made fun of me, that per- 
haps some one had foreseen this scene and had told 
her what to say and made sure of her silence, just 
as her complicity had been gained. Thus I shall 
always stumble against some barrier, and struggle 
in this wretched darkness and mire from which I 
cannot extricate myself ! 



XII 



No, nobody knew anything against her ! Neither 
the Superior of the convent where she had been 
brought up until she was sixteen, nor the servants 
that had waited on her, nor the governesses w^ho had 
finished her education, could remember that Elaine 
had been difficult to check or to teach, or that she 
had had any other ideas than those natural to her 
age. She had certainly shown no precocious co- 
quetry and disquieting instincts at school that would 
begin the inevitable eclogue of Daphnis and Chloe 
over again. 



MAD! 135 

But — oh, I felt it too much for it to be nothing 
but a chimera and a mirage! — it was no pure girl 
who threw her arms around my neck so lovingly, 
and who returned my first kisses so deliciously, 
who was attracted by my society, who gave no 
signs of surprise and uttered no complaint, who 
appeared to forget everything when in my embrace. 
No, no, a thousand times no — that could not have 
been a pure woman. 

I ought to have cast off that intoxication which 
was bewitching me, and to have rushed out of the 
room where such a lie was being consummated; I 
ought to have profited by her moments of amiable 
weakness, while she was incapable of collecting her 
thoughts, when she would with tears have con- 
fessed an early fault, for which the unhappy g^rl 
had not, perhaps, been altogether responsible. Per- 
haps by my entreaties, or even perhaps by violence, 
in terror at my furious looks, when my features 
would have been distorted by rage and my hands 
clinched in spite of myself in a gesture of menace 
and of murder, I might have forced her to open her 
heart, to show me its defilement, and to tell me of 
this sad love episode. 

How do I know whether her sorrow might not 
have moved me to pity, whether I should not have 
wept with her at the heavy cross that both of us 
had to bear, whether I should not have forgiven 
her and opened my arms wide, so that she might 
have thrown herself into them as into a peaceful 
refuge? 



136 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

Who could tell me or come to my aid? Who 
could give me the proofs, the real, undeniable 
proofs, either that I was an infamous wretch to sus- 
pect Elaine, whom I ought to have worshiped with 
my eyes shut, or that she was guilty, that she had 
lied, and that I had the right to cast her out of my 
life and to treat her like a worthless woman? 



XIII 



Had I married when I was quite young, be- 
fore I had wallowed in the mire of Paris, from 
which one never can afterward free oneself — for 
heart and body both retain indelible marks of it — 
had experiences not disgusted me with belief in any 
woman, had I not been weaned from supreme 
illusions and surfeited with everything to the mar- 
row, should I have had these abominable ideas? 

I waited almost until I was beginning to decline 
in life before I took the right path and sought 
refuge in port, before seeking purity and virtue, 
and before listening to the continual advice of 
those who love me. I passed too suddenly frc«n 
lies, from ephemeral enjoyments, from that satiety 
which depraves us, from vice in which one tries 
to acquire renewed strength and vigor and to dis- 
cover some new and unknown sensation, to the 
pure sentimentalities of a betrothal to the unspeak- 



MAD! 137 

able delights of a life that was common to two, 
to that first communion which should constitute 
married life. 

If, instead of becoming involved in an engage- 
ment and forming a resolution so quickly — I had 
feared that someone else would be beforehand with 
me and rob me of Elaine's heart, or that I should 
relapse into my former habits ; if instead of lacking 
moral strength and character enough in case I 
might have had to wait ; if I had retreated without 
entering into any engagement and without having 
bound my life to that of the adorable girl whom 
chance had thrown in my way — it would surely have 
been far better. Had I waited, prepared myself, 
questioned myself, and accustomed myself to that 
metamorphosis ; had I purified myself and forgotten 
the past, as in those retreats which precede the 
solemn ceremony when pious souls pronounce their 
indissoluble vows! 

The reaction had been too sudden and violent 
for such a convalescent as I was. I had worked 
myself up, and pictured to myself something so 
white, so virginal, so paradisaical, such complete 
ignorance, such unconquerable modesty, and such 
delicious awkwardness, that Elaine's gayety, her 
unconstraint, her fearlessness, and her kisses had 
bewildered me, roused my suspicions, and filled me 
with anguish. 

Yet I know how all — or nearly all — girls are edu- 
cated in these days, and that the ignorant, simple 



138 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

ones exist only in the drama, and I know also 
that they hear and learn too many things, both at 
home and in society, not to have an intuition of 
the results of love. 

Elaine loves me with all her heart, for she has 
told me so time after time, and she repeats it to 
me more ardently than ever when I take her into 
my arms and appear happy. She must have seen 
that her beauty had, in a manner, converted me; 
that in order to possess her I had renounced many 
seductions and a long life of enjoyment; and per- 
haps she would no longer please me if she were 
too much of the little girl, and would appear ridicu- 
lous to me if she showed her fears by any entreaty, 
gesture, or sigh. 

As the people in the South say, she would have 
acted the brave woman, and boasted, so that no 
complaint might betray her, and have imparted the 
wild tenderness of a jealous heart to her kisses, and 
would have attempted a struggle, which would cer- 
tainly have been useless, against those recollections 
of mine, with which she thought I must be filled, in 
spite of myself. 

I accused myself so that I might no longer accuse 
her. I studied my malady; I knew quite well I 
was mistaken, and I wished to be mistaken. I 
measured the stupidity and the disgrace of such sus- 
picions; nevertheless, in spite of everything, they 
assailed me again, watched me traitorously, and I 
was carried away and devoured by them. 



MAD! 139 

Ah ! Was there in the whole world, even among 
the most wretched beggars that were dying of star- 
vation, whom nature squeezes in a vise, as it were, 
or among the victims of love, anybody who could 
say that he was more unhappy than I ? 



XIV 



This morning Comte de Saulnac, who was lunch- 
ing here, told us a terrible story of a physician who 
had drugged or hypnotized a farmer's young daugh- 
ter, who had been sent to him as a patient, and 
had brutally assaulted her. 

Before he had finished I noticed an evil look on 
Elaine's face such as I had never seen before and 
with quivering nostrils she exclaimed in a hard 
voice: "To think that such a monster was not sent 
to the guillotine !" 

Now, unless Elaine was a monster of wicked- 
ness, unless she had no heart and knew how to lie 
and to deceive as well as a girl whose only pleas- 
ure consists in making all those who are capti- 
vated by her beauty play the laughable part of 
dupes, unless that mask of youth concealed a most 
polluted soul, if there had been an unhappy epi- 
sode in her life, would not something visible, some- 
thing repellent, attacks of low spirits and of gloom 
and disgust with everything, have remained, which 



140 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

would have shown the progress of some mysterious 
malady, the gradual weakening of the brain, and 
the enlargement of an incurable wound? She 
would have worried occasionally, would have been 
lost in thought and become confused when spoken 
to ; she would have taken little interest in anything 
that happened, either at home or elsewhere. Kisses 
would have become a torture to her, and would 
have only excited a fever of revolt in her inanimate 
being. 

I fancy that I can see such a victim of inexorable 
Destiny, as if she were a consumptive woman whose 
days are numbered, and who knows it. She smiles 
feebly when one tries to lift her out of her torpor, 
to amuse her, and to instil a little hope into her soul. 
She does not speak, but remains sitting silently at 
a window for days together, and one might think 
that her large, dreamy eyes are looking at 
strange sights in the depths of the sky, and see 
a long, attractive road there. But Elaine, on the 
contrary, thought of nothing but of amusing her- 
self, of enjoying life and of laughing, and added 
all the tricks of a girl who has just left school to 
the seductive grace of a young woman. She carried 
men away with her; she was most attractive, and 
loving seemed to be what she was created for. She 
thought of nothing but little coquettish acts that 
made her more adorable, and of tender innuendoes 
that triumph over everything, and bring men to 
their knees and tempt them. 



MAD ! 141 

It was thus that I formerly dreamed of the 
woman who was to be my wife, and this was the 
manner in which I looked on life in common; and 
now this perpetual joy irritates me like a challenge, 
like some piece of insolent boasting, and those lips 
that seek mine and offer themselves so aWuringly 
and coaxingly to me make me sad and torture me, 
as if they breathed nothing but a lie. 

Ah ! If she had been the mistress of another 
man before marriage, if she had belonged to some 
one else besides me, it could only have been from 
love, without altogether knowing what she wanted 
or what she was doing ! And now, because she had 
acquired a name by marriage, because she had acci- 
dentally extricated herself from the entanglement 
of that false step and thought she had won the 
game, she fancied that I had not perceived any- 
thing, that I adored her and possessed her wholly. 

How wretched I was ! Should I never be able to 
escape from that night which was growing darker 
and darker, which was imprisoning me, driving me 
mad, and raising an increasing and impenetrable 
barrier between Elaine and me? Would not she, in 
the end, be the stronger — she whom I loved so 
dearly — would n,ot she envelop mc in so much love 
that at last I should again find the happiness that I 
had lost, as if it were a calm, sunlit haven, and thus 
forget this horrible nightmare when I fell on my 
knees before her beauty, with a contrite heart and 
pricked by remorse, happy to give myself to her 

Vol. 2—10 



142 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

forever, altogether and more passionately than at 
the divine period of our betrothal? 



XV 



Even the sight of our bedroom became painful 
to me. I was afraid of it; I was uncomfortable 
there, and felt a kind of repulsion in entering it. 
It seemed to me as if Elaine were repeating a part 
that some one else had taught her, and I almost 
hoped that in a moment of forget fulness she would 
allow her secret to escape her, and pronounce some 
name that was not mine; and I used to lie awake, 
with my ears on the alert, in the hope that she might 
betray herself in her sleep and murmur some re- 
vealing word, as she recalled the past, while my 
temples throbbed and my whole body trembled with 
excitement. 

But when this was over and I saw her sleeping as 
peacefully as a little girl who was tired with play- 
ing, with parted lips and disheveled hair, and 
measured the full extent of the stupidity of my 
hatred and the sacrilegious madness of my jealousy, 
my heart softened and I fell into such a state of 
profound and absolute distress that I thought I 
should have died of it ; large drops of cold perspira- 
tion ran down my cheeks and tears fell from my 
eyes, and I got up, so that my sobs might not dis- 
turb her rest and wake her. 



MAD ! 143 

As this could not continue, however, I told her 
one day that I felt so exhausted and ill that I 
should prefer to sleep in my own room. She ap- 
peared to believe me, and merely said : 

"As you please, my dear!" but her blue eyes 
suddenly assumed a look so anxious and grieved 
that I turned my head aside so as not to see them. 



XVI 



I WAS again in the old house, and without her, 
in the old house where Elaine used to spend all 
her holidays, in the room whose shutters had not 
been opened since our departure seven months ago. 

Why did I go there, where the calm of the coun- 
try, the silence of the solitude, and my recollections 
irritated me and recalled my trouble, where I suf- 
fered even more than I did in Paris, and where I 
thought of Elaine every moment? I seemed to see 
her and to hear her, in a species of hallucination. 

What did I learn from her letters, which I had 
taken out of the writing-table that she had used 
as a girl ; what did I find out from her ball cards, 
which were stuck round her looking-glass, in which 
she used to admire herself formerly; what did her 
dresses, her dressing-gowns, and the dusty furni- 
ture, whose repose my trembling hands violated, 
tell me? Nothing, and always nothing! 



144 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

At table I used to speak with the worthy couple 
who had never left the mansion and who appeared 
to look upon themselves as its second masters, with 
the apparent good nature of a man who was in love 
with his wife and who wished only to speak about 
her, who took an interest in the smallest detail of 
her childhood and youth, with all the jovial famili- 
arity which encourages peasants to talk ; and when 
a few glasses of white wine had loosened their 
tongues they would talk about her whom they loved 
as if she had been their child. At other times I 
used to question the farmers, when they came to 
settle their accounts. 

Had Elaine the bridle on her neck as so many 
girls had? Did she like the country? Were the 
peasants fond of her, and did she show any pref- 
erence for one or another? Were many people 
invited for the shooting, and did she visit much 
with the other ladies in the neighborhood? 

They drank with their elbows resting on the 
table in front of me, uttered her praises in a voice 
as monotonous as a spinning-wheel, lost themselves 
in endless, senseless chatter which made me yawn 
in spite of myself, and told me her girlish tricks, 
which certainly did not disclose what was haunting 
me — the traces of a first love, that perilous flirta- 
tion, that foolish escapade which Elaine might have 
experienced. 

Old and young, men and women, spoke of her 
with something like devotion, and all said how kind 



MAD! 145 

and charitable she was, and as merry as a bird on 
a bri^fht day; they said she pitied their poverty 
and their troubles, and was still the young girl in 
spite of her ' ng skirts, and fearing nothing, while 
even the anin h loved her. 

She was almost always alone, and never was 
troubled with any companions ; she seemed to shun 
the house, to hide herself in the park when the bell 
announced some unexpected visit, and when one 
of her aunts, Madame de Pleissac, said to her: 

"Do you think that you will ever find a hus- 
band with your shy manners?" she replied, with 
a burst of laughter : 

"Very well, then, auntie, I shall do without one!" 

She never had given a handle to spiteful chatter 
or to slander, and had not flirted with the best- 
looking young man in the neighborhood, any more 
than she had with the officers who stayed at the 
chateau during the maneuvers, or the neighbors 
who came to see her parents. And some of them 
even, old men whom years of work had bent like 
vine-stocks and had tanned like the leather bottles 
used by caravans in the East, would say, with 
tears in their dim eyes : 

"Ah!. When you married our young lady we 
all said that there would not be a happier man in 
the whole world than you!" 

Ought I to have believed them? Were they not 
simple, frank souls, ignorant of wiles and of lies, 
who had no interest in deceiving me, who had lived 



146 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

near Elaine while she was growing up and becom- 
ing a woman, and who had been familiar with her ? 
Could I be the only one who doubted Elaine, the 
only one who accused her and suspected her, I who 
loved her so madly, I whose only hope, only desire, 
only happiness she was? May Heaven guide me 
on this terrible road on which I have lost my way, 
where I am calling for help and where my misery 
is increasing every day, and grant me the infinite 
pleasure of being able to enjoy her caresses with- 
out any ill feeling, and to be able to love her as 
she loves me. And if I must expiate my old faults, 
and this infamous doubt which I am ashamed of 
not being immediately able to cast from me, if I 
must pay for my unmerited happiness with usury, 
I hope that I may be given to death as a prey, only 
provided that I may belong to her, idolize her, 
believe in her kisses, believe in her beauty and in 
her love, for one hour, for even a few moments ! 



XVII 



I SUDDENLY remembered to-day a strange evening 
I had spent at Madame d'Ecoussens', when I was 
a bachelor, where all of us — some with secret and 
insurmountable agony and others with absolute in- 
difference — went into one of the small rooms where 
a woman practitioner of palmistry, who was then 



t 



MAD! 147 

in vogue and whose name I have forgotten, had in- 
stalled herself. 

When it came to my turn to sit opposite her, 
as if I had been about to make my confession, she 
took my hands in her long, slender fingers, felt 
them, squeezed them, and titillated them, as if they 
had been a lump of wax which she was about to 
model into shape. 

Severely dressed in black, with a pensive face, 
thin lips, and almost copper-colored eyes, and 
neither young nor old, this woman had something 
commanding, imperious, disturbing about her, and 
I must confess that my heart beat more violently 
than usual while she looked at the lines in my left 
hand through a strong magnifying-glass, where the 
mysterious characters of some Satanic conjuring 
appear to form a capital M. 

She was very interesting, occasionally discovered 
fragments of my past and gave mysterious hints, 
as if her looks were following the strange roads of 
Destiny in those unequal, confused curves. She 
told me in brief words that I should have and had 
had some opportunities, that I was wasting my 
physical, more than my moral, strength in all kinds 
of love affairs that did not last long, and that the 
day when I really loved — or when, to use her ex- 
pression, I was fairly caught — would be to me the 
prelude of intense sufferings, a real way of the 
Cross and of an illness of which I never should be 
cured. Then, as she examined my line of life, that 



148 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

which surrounds the thick part of the thumb, the 
lady in black suddenly grew gloomy, frowned, and 
appeared to hesitate to go on to the end and con- 
tinue my horoscope, and said very quickly : 

"Your line of life is magnificent, Monsieur; you 
will live to be sixty at least, but take care not to 
spend it too freely or to use it immoderately; be- 
ware of strong emotions and of any passional crisis, 
for I remark a gap there in the full vigor of your 
age, and that gap, that incurable malady which 
I mentioned to you, is in the line of your heart." 

I mastered myself, in order not to smile, and took 
my leave of her, but everything that she foretold 
has been realized, and I dare not look at that sin- 
ister gap which she saw in my line of life — for that 
gap can only mean madness! 

Madness, my poor, dear, adored Elaine ! 



XVIII 



I BECAME as bad and spiteful as if the spirit of 
hatred had possession of me, and envied those 
whose life was too happy and who had no cares to 
trouble them. I could not conceal my pleasure 
when one of those domestic dramas occurred in 
which hearts bleed and are broken, in which odious 
treachery and bitter sufferings are brought to light. 

I attended divorce proceedings, with their mis- 



iViAJJ ! 149 

erable episodes, with the wrangHngs of the lawyers 
and all the unhappiness that they revealed, the ex- 
posure of the vanity of dreams, the tricks of 
women, the lowness of some minds, the foul animal 
that slumbers in most hearts. They attracted me 
like a delightful play, a piece which rivets one from 
the first act to the last. I listened greedily to pas- 
sionate letters, those mad prayers whose secrets 
some lawyer violates and which he reads aloud in 
a mocking tone, and which he gives pell-mell to the 
bench and to the public, who have come to be 
amused or to be excited, and to stare at the vic- 
tims of love. 

I followed those proceedings where unfaithful- 
ness was unfolded chapter by chapter in its brutal 
reality of things that had actually occurred, and 
for the first time I forgot my own unhappiness in 
them. Sometimes the husband and wife were there, 
as if they wished to defy each other, to meet in 
same last encounter; and, pale and feverish, they 
watched each other, devoured each other with their 
eyes, hiding their grief and their misery. 

It seemed to me as if I were looking at a heap 
of ruins, or breathing in the odor of an ambulance 
in which dying men were groaning, and that those 
unhappy people were assuaging my trouble some- 
what and taking their share of it. 

I used to read the advertisements in the personal 
columns in the newspapers, where the same exalted 
phrases used to recur, where I read the same de- 



150 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

spairing adieus, earnest requests for a meeting, 
echoes of past affection, and vain vows ; and all this 
relieved me, vaguely appeased me, and made me 
think less about myself — that hateful, incurable / 
whom I longed' to destroy ! 



XIX 



The heat was very oppressive and there was 
not a breath of breeze, and after dinner Elaine 
wished to go for a drive in the Bois de Boulogne ; 
so we drove in the victoria toward the bridge at 
Suresnes. 

It was growing late, and the dark drives looked 
like deserted labyrinths and cool retreats where one 
would have liked to stop late, where the very rustle 
of the leaves seems to whisper temptations, where 
there was seduction in the softness of the air and 
in the infinite music of the silence. 

Occasional lights were visible among the trees, 
and the crescent of the new moon shone like a half- 
opened gold circle in the serene sky; the green 
sward, the copses and the small lakes, which gave 
an uncertain reflection of the surrounding objects, 
came into sight suddenly, out of the shade ; and the 
intoxicating smell of the hay and of the flower-beds 
rose from the earth as if from a sachet. 

We did not speak, but the jolts of the carriage 



MAD! 151 

occasionally brought us close together, and as if 
I were being attracted by some irresistible force, 
I turned to Elaine, and saw that her eyes were full 
of tears and that she was very pale, and my whole 
body trembled when I looked at her. Suddenly, as 
if she could not bear this state of affairs any longer, 
she threw her arms round my neck, and with her 
lips almost touching mine she said : 

"Why do you not love me any longer? Why 
do you make me so unhappy? What have I done 
to you, Jacques ?" 

She was at my mercy, she was undergoing the 
influence of the charm of one of those moonlight 
nights which unstring women's nerves, make them 
languid, and leave them without a will and without 
any strength, and I thought that she was about to 
tell me everything, to confess everything to me, 
and I had to master myself not to kiss her on her 
sweet, coaxing lips, but I only replied coldly : 

"Do you not know, Elaine? Did you not think 
that sooner or later I should discover everything 
that you have been trying to hide from me?" 

She sat up in terror, and repeated as if she were 
in a profound stupor: 

"What have I been trying to hide from you?" 

I had said too much, and was bound to go on to 
the end and to finish, even though I repented of it 
ever afterward; so amid the noise of the carriage 
I said in a hoarse voice : 

"Is it not your fault if I have become estranged 



152 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

from you ? Shall I be the only one to be unhappy, 
I who loved you so dearly, who believed in you, 
and whom you have deceived?" 

Elaine closed my mouth with her fingers, and 
breathing hard, with dilated eyes and with such a 
pale face that I thought she was about to faint, she 
said hoarsely: 

"Be quiet, be quiet, you are frightening me — 
frightening me as if you were a madman." 

That word froze me, and I shivered as if phan- 
toms were appearing among the trees and showing 
me the place that had been marked out for me 
by Destiny; I felt inclined to jump from the car- 
riage and to run to the river, which was calling»to 
me yonder in a maternal voice and inviting me to 
eternal sleep, eternal repose, but Elaine called out to 
the coachman: 

"We will go home, Firmin; drive as fast as you 
can !" 

We did not exchange another word, and during 
the whole drive Elaine sobbed convulsively, though 
she tried to hide the sound with her handkerchief, 
and I understood that it was all finished, and that 
I had killed her love. 



XX 



Yes, all was ended, and stupidly ended, with- 



MAD! 153 

out the decisive explanation, in which I should find 
strength to escape from a hateful yoke, and to repu- 
diate the woman who had allured me with false 
caresses, and who no longer ought to bear my name. 

It was either that, or else — who knows? — the 
happiness, the peace, the love which was not trou- 
bled by any evil after- thoughts, that absolute love 
that I dreamed of between Elaine and myself when 
I asked for her hand, and of which I was still 
continually dreaming with the despair of a con- 
demned soul far from Paradise, from which I 
was suffering, and which would finally kill me. 

She prevented me from speaking ; with her trem- 
bling hand she checked that flow of frenzied words 
which were about to come from my pained heart, 
those terrible accusations which an imperious, re- 
sistless force incited me to utter; and the terrified 
words that had escaped from her pale lips froze me 
again, and penetrated to my marrow as if they had 
been some piercing wind. 

In spite of it all, I was in full possession of my 
reason; I was not in a passion, and I could not 
have looked like a fool. 

What could she have seen unusual in my eyes 
that frightened her? What inflections were there 
in my voice for such an idea suddenly to arise in 
her brain? But suppose she had not made a mis- 
take, suppose I no longer knew what I was saying 
nor what I was doing, and really had that terrible 
malady that she had mentioned, and which I can- 
not name! 



154 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

It seems to me now as if I could see myself in a 
mirror of anguish, altogether changed; as if my 
head were a complete void at times and became 
something sonorous, and then was struck violent, 
prolonged blows from a heavy clapper, as if it had 
been a bell, filling it with tumultuous, deafening 
vibrations from a kind of loud tocsin and from mo- 
notonous peals, that were succeeded by the silence 
of the grave. And the voice of recollection, a voice 
which tells me Elaine's mysterious history, which 
speaks to me only of her, which recalls that first 
night, that strange night of happiness and of grief, 
when I doubted her fidelity, when 1 doubted her 
heart as well as I did herself, passed slowly through 
this silence all at once, like the voice of distant 
music. 

Alas! Suppose she had not made a mictake! 



XXI 



I MUST be an object of hatred to her, and I left 
home without writing her a line, without trying to 
see her, without bidding her good-by. She may 
pity me or she may hate me, but she certainly does 
not love me any longer, and I have myself buried 
that love, for which I would formerly have given 
my whole life. As she is young and pretty, how- 
ever, Elaine will soon console herself for these pass- 



MAD! 155 

ing troubles with some soul that is the shadow of 
her own ; she will replace me, if she has not done 
that already, and will seek happiness in new en- 
vironments. 

What are she and her friends plotting? What 
will they try to do to prevent me from interfering 
with them? What snares will they set for me so 
that I may go and end my miserable life in some 
dungeon from which there is no release? 

But that is impossible; it can never be. Elaine 
belongs to me altogether and forever; she is my 
property, my chattel, my happiness. I adore her, 
I want her all to myself, even though she be guilty, 
and I never will leave her again for a moment. I 
will still cling to her petticoats, I will roll at her 
feet and ask her pardon, for I thirst for her kisses 
and her love. 

To-night, in a few^ hours, I shall be with her, I 
shall go into our room, and I will cover the cheeks 
of my fair-haired darling with such kisses that she 
will no longer think me mad, and if she cries out, if 
she defends herself and spurns me, I shall kill her ; 
I have made up my mind to that. 

I know that I shall strike her with the Arabian 
knife that is on one of the tables in our room 
among other knick-knacks. I see the spot where 
I shall plunge in the sharp blade, into the nape of 
her neck, which is covered with little, soft, pale 
golden curls, which arc the same color as the hair 
of her head. This knife attracted me so at one 



156 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

time, during the chaste period of our engagement, 
that I used to wish to bite it, as if it had been some 
kind of fruit. I shall do it some day in the coun- 
try, when she is bathed in a ray of sunlight, which 
makes her look dazzling in her pink muslin gown, 
some day on a towing-path, when the nightingales 
are singing and the dragonflies, with their reflec- 
tions of blue and silver, are flying about. 

There, there I shall skilfully plunge it in up to 
the hilt, like those who know how to kill. 



XXII 



And after I have killed her, what then? 

As the judges would not be able to explain such 
an extraordinary crime to themselves, they would, 
of course, say that I was mad ; medical men would 
examine me and would immediately agree that I 
should at once be kept under supervision, taken 
care of, and placed in a hospital. 

And for years, perhaps, because I am strong, 
and because such a vigorous animal would survive 
the calamity intact, although my intellect might give 
way, I should remain a prey to these chimeras, 
carry about with me that fixed idea of her lies, her 
impurity and her shame, that would be my one 
recollection, and I should suffer unceasingly. 

I am writing all this in perfect coolness and in 



MAD! 157 

full possession of my reason; I have perfect pre- 
science of what my resolve entails, ai.d of this blind 
rush toward death. I feel that my very minutes 
are numbered, and that I no longer have anything 
in my skull, in which some fire, though I do not 
quite know what it is, is burning, except a few 
particles of what used to be my brain. 

Just as a short time ago I should certainly have 
murdered Elaine if she had been with me when 
invisible hands seemed to be pushing me toward 
her and inaudible voices ordered me to commit that 
murder, it is surely most probable that I shall have 
another crisis, and will there be any awakening 
from that? 

Ah! It will be a thousand times better, since 
Destiny has left me a half-open door, to escape 
from life before it is too late, before the free, sane, 
strong man that I am at present becomes the most 
pitiable, the most destructive, the most dangerous 
of human wrecks! 

May all these notes of my misery fall into 
Elaine's hands some day, may she read them to the 
end, pity and absolve me, and for a long time 
mourn for me! 

{Here ends Jacques's Journal.) 



Vol. 2—11 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 

HOW strange it was for me to choose Made- 
moiselle Pearl for queen that evening ! 

Every year I celebrate Twelfth Night with 
my old friend Chantal. My father, who was his 
most intimate friend, used to take me there when 
I was a child. I continued the custom, and doubt- 
less I shall continue it as long as I live and as long 
as there is a Chantal in this world. 

The Chantals lead a peculiar existence; they live 
in Paris as if they were in Grasse, Yvetot, or Pont- 
a-Mousson. 

They have a house and a little garden near the 
observatory. They live there as if they were in 
the country. Of Paris, the real Paris, they know 
nothing at ^11, they suspect nothing ; they are so far, 
so far away! Yet from time to time, they take a 
trip thither. Madame Chantal goes to town to lay in 
her provisions, as it is called in the family. This 
is the way they go to purchase their provisions: 

Mademoiselle Pearl, who has the keys to the 
kitchen closet (for the linen closets are adminis- 

158 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 159 

tered by the mistress herself), Mademoiselle Pearl 
gives warning that the supply of sugar is low, that 
the preserves are giving out, that not much is left 
in the bottom of the coffee bag. Thus warned 
against sudden famine, Madame Chantal passes 
everything in review, making notes on a pad. Then 
she puts down the figures and goes through long cal- 
culations and discussions with Mademoiselle Pearl. 
At last they come to an agreement, and decide 
upon the quantity of each thing of which they will 
lay in three months' provisions : sugar, rice, prunes, 
coffee, preserves, cans of peas, beans, lobster, salt 
or smoked fish, etc. The day for the purchasing 
is then fixed and they go in a cab with a railing 
round the top and drive to a large grocery on the 
other side of the river in new parts of the town. 

Madame Chantal and Mademoiselle Pearl make 
this trip together, mysteriously, and do not return 
till dinner-time, tired out, although still excited, and 
shaken up by the cab, the roof of which is covered 
with bundles and bags, like an express wagon. 

For the Chantals all that part of Paris on the 
other side of the Seine constitutes the new quarter, 
a section inhabited by a strange, noisy population, 
which cares little for honor, spends its days in dis- 
sipation, its nights in revelry, and throws money out 
of the windows. From time to time, however, the 
young girls are taken to the Opera-Comique or the 
Theatre Frangais, when the play is recommended 
by the paper that is read by M. Chantal. 



160 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

At present the young ladies are respectively 
nineteen and seventeen. They are pretty girls, tall 
and fresh, very well brought up, in fact, too well 
brought up, so much so that they pass by unper- 
•:eived like two pretty dolls. Never would the idea 
:ome to me to pay the slightest attention or to pay 
:ourt to one of the young Chantals; they are so 
immaculate that one hardly dares speak to them; 
one almost feels indecent when bowing to them. 

As for the father, he is a charming man, well 
educated, frank and cordial, but he likes calm and 
quiet above all else, and has thus contributed greatly 
to the mummifying of his family in order to live 
as he pleased in stagnant quiescence. He reads 
much, loves to talk and is readily affected. Lack 
of contact and of elbowing with the world has 
made his moral skin very sensitive. The slightest 
thing excites him and makes him suffer. 

The Chantals have limited connections carefully 
chosen in the neighborhood. They also exchange 
two or three yearly visits with relatives who live 
at a distance. 

As for me, I take dinner with them on the fif- 
teenth of August and on Twelfth Night. That is 
as much one of my duties as Easter communion is 
for a Catholic. On the fifteenth of August a few 
friends are invited, but on Twelfth Night I am the 
only stranger. 

This year, as every former year, I went to the 
Chantals' for my Epiphany dinner. According to 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 161 

my usual custom, I kissed M. Chantal, Madame 
Chantal and Mademoiselle Pearl, and I made a low 
bow to the Misses Louise and Pauline. I was ques- 
tioned about a thousand and one things — about 
what had happened on the boulevards, about poli- 
tics, about how matters stood in Tong-King, and 
about our representatives in Parliament. Madame 
Chantal, a fat lady, whose ideas always gave me the 
impression of being carved out square like building- 
stones, was accustomed to exclaim after every polit- 
ical discussion: "All that is seed which does not 
promise much for the future 1" Why have I always 
imagined that Madame Chantal's ideas are square? 
I don't know; but everything that she says takes 
that shape in my head : a big square, with four 
symmetrical angles. There are other people whose 
ideas always strike me as being round and rolling 
like a hoop. As soon as they begin a sentence 
on any subject it rolls on and on, coming out in 
ten, twenty, fifty round ideas, large and small, 
which I see rolling along, one behind the other, to 
the end of the horizon. Other people have pointed 
ideas — but enough of this. 

We sat down as usual and finished our dinner 
without anything out of the ordinary being said. At 
dessert, the Twelfth Night cake was brought on. 
Now, M. Chantal had been king every year. I don't 
know whether this was the result of continued 
chance or a family convention, but he unfailingly 
found the bean in his piece of cake, and he would 



162 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

proclaim Madame Chantal to be queen. Therefore, 
I was greatly surprised to find something hard, 
which almost broke a tooth, in a mouthful of 
cake. Gently I took this thing from my mouth and 
I saw that it was a little porcelain doll, no bigger 
than a bean. Surprise caused me to exclaim: "Ah!" 
All looked at me, and Chantal clapped his hands 
and cried: "It's Gaston! It's Gaston! Long live 
the king! Long live the king!" 

All took up the chorus: "Long live the king!" 
And I blushed to the tips of my ears, as one often 
does, without any reason at all, in situations which 
are a little foolish. I sat there looking at my plate, 
with this absurd little bit of china in my fingers, 
forcing myself to laugh and not knowing what to 
do or say, when Chantal once more cried out: 
"Now you must choose a queen!" 

Then I was thunderstruck. In a second a thou- 
sand thoughts and suppositions flashed through my 
mind. Did they expect me to pick out one of the 
young Chantal ladies? Was that a trick to make 
me say which one I preferred? Was it a gent4e, 
light, direct hint of the parents toward a possible 
marriage? The idea of marriage roams continually 
in houses with grown-up g^rls, and takes every 
shape and disguise, and employs every subterfuge. 
A dread of compromising myself took hold of me, 
as well as an extreme timidity before the obstinately 
correct and reserved attitude of the Misses Louise 
and Pauline. To choose one of them in preference 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 163 

to the other seemed as difficult as choosing between 
two drops of water ; and then the fear of launching 
myself into an affair that might, in spite of me, lead 
me gently into matrimonial ties, by means as wary 
and imperceptible and as calm as this insignificant 
royalty — the fear of all this haunted me. 

Suddenly I had an inspiration, and I held out to 
Mademoiselle Pearl the symbolical emblem. At 
first every one was surprised, then they doubtless 
appreciated my delicacy and discretion, for they ap- 
plauded furiously. Everybody cried: "Long live 
the queen ! Long live the queen !" 

As for herself, poor old maid, she was so amazed 
that she completely lost control of herself ; she was 
trembling and stammering; "No — no — oh! no — not 
me — please — not me — I beg of you " 

Then for the first time in my life I looked at 
Mademoiselle Pearl and wondered what she was. 

I was accustomed to seeing her in this house, 
just as one sees old upholstered armchairs on which 
one has been sitting since childhood without ever 
noticing them. One day, with no reason at all, be- 
cause a ray of sunshine happens to strike the seat, 
you suddenly think: "Why, that chair is very 
curious ;" and then you discover that the wood has 
been worked by a real artist, and that the material 
is remarkable. I never had taken any notice of 
Mademoiselle Pearl. 

She was a part of the Chantal family, that was 
all. But how? By what right? She was a tall, 



164 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

thin person keeping herself in the background, 
but was by no means insignificant. She was treated 
in a friendly manner, better than a housekeeper, 
not so well as a relative. I suddenly observed sev- 
eral shades of distinction which I had not noticed 
before. Madame Chantal said: "Pearl." The 
young ladies: "Mademoiselle Pearl," and Chantal 
only addressed her as "Mademoiselle," with an air 
of greater respect, perhaps. 

I began to observe her. How old could she be? 
Forty? Yes, forty. She was not old, she made 
herself old. I was suddenly struck by this fact. 
She arranged her hair and dressed in a ridiculous 
manner, and, notwithstanding all that, she was not 
in the least ridiculous, she had such simple, natural 
gracefulness, veiled and hidden. \\''hat a strange 
creature ! How was it that I had not observed her 
before? She dressed her hair in a grotesque man- 
ner with little old-maid curls, most absurd ; but be- 
neath this one could see a large, calm brow, cut 
by two deep lines, two wrinkles of long sadness, 
then two blue eyes, large and tender, so timid, so 
bashful, so humble, two beautiful eyes which had 
kept the expression of naive wonder of a young 
girl, of youthful sensations, and also of sorrow, 
which had softened without spoiling them. 

Her whole face was refined and discreet, a face 
the expression of which seemed to have gone out 
without being used up or faded by the fatigues and 
great emotions of life. What a dainty mouth ! and 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 165 

such pretty teeth! But one would have thought 
that she did not dare smile. 

Suddenly I compared her with Madame Chantal ! 
Undoubtedly Mademoiselle Pearl was the better of 
the two, a hundred times better, daintier, prouder, 
more noble. I was surprised at my observation. 
They were serving champagne. I held my glass 
up to the queen and, with a well-turned compliment, 
I drank to her health. I could see that she felt in- 
clined to hide her face in her napkin. Then, as she 
was dipping her lips in the clear wine, everybody 
cried: "The queen drinks! the queen drinks!" She 
almost turned purple and choked. Everybody was 
laughing; but I could see that they all loved her. 

As soon as dinner was over Chantal took me by 
the arm. It was time for his cigar, a sacred hour. 
When alone he would smoke it out in the street ; 
when guests came to dinner he would take them to 
the billiard-room and smoke while playing. That 
evening they had built a fire to celebrate Twelfth 
Night. My old friend took his cue, a very fine one, 
and chalked it with great care ; then he said : 

"You break, my boy!" 

He called me "my boy," although I was twenty- 
five, but he had known me as a child. 

I began the game and made a few caroms, I 
missed some others, but as the thought of Made- 
moiselle Pearl kept returning to my mind, I said: 

"By the way, Monsieur Chantal, is Mademoiselle 
Pearl a relative of yours?" 



166 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

Greatly surprised, he stopped playing and looked 
at me : 

"What! Don't you know? Haven't you heard 
about Mademoiselle Pearl?" 

"No." 

"Didn't your father ever tell you?" 

"No." 

"Well, well, that's strange! That certainly is 
strange ! Why, it's a regular romance !" 

He paused, and then continued: 

"And if you only knew how peculiar it is that 
you should ask me that to-day, on Twelfth Night !" 

"Why?" 

"Why? Well, listen. Forty-one years ago to-day, 
the day of the Epiphany, the following events oc- 
curred: We were then living at Roiiy-le-Tors, on 
the ramparts; but in order that you may under- 
stand, I must first explain the house. Roiiy is 
built on a hill, or, rather on a mound that over- 
looks a great stretch of prairie. We had a house 
there, with a beautiful hanging garden supported by 
the old battlemented wall ; so that the house was in 
the town on the streets, while the garden over- 
looked the plain. There was a door leading from 
the garden to the open country, at the bottom of a 
secret stairway in the thick wall — the kind you read 
about in novels. A road passed in front of this 
door, which was provided with a big bell ; for the 
peasants would bring their provisions up this way. 
because it was the shorter. 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 167 

"You now understand the place, don't you? Well, 
this year, at Epiphany, it had been snowing for a 
week. One might have thought the world was 
coming to an end. When we went to the ramparts 
to look over the plain, this immense white, frozen 
country, which shone like varnish, would chill our 
very souls. It appeared as if the Lord had packed 
the world in cotton to put it away in the store- 
room for old worlds. I can assure you it was a 
dreary prospect. 

" We were a very numerous family at that time : 
my father, my mother, my uncle and aunt, my two 
brothers and four cousins ; they were pretty little 
girls; I married the youngest. Of all that group 
only three of us are left : my wife, I, and my sis- 
t-er-in-law, who lives in Marseilles. Zounds ! how 
quickly a family like that dwindles away! I trem- 
ble when I think of it. I was fifteen years old then, 
'vince I am fifty-six now. 

"We were about to celebrate the Epiphany, and 
ivere all happy, very happy! Everybody was in 
the parlor, awaiting dinner, and my oldest brother, 
Jacques, said : 'A dog has been howling out in the 
plain for about ten minutes ; the poor beast must 
be lost.' 

" He had hardly stopped talking when the garden 
bell rang. It had the deep sound of a church bell, 
which made one think of death. A shiver ran 
through everybody. My father called the servant 
and told him to go outside and look. We waited 



168 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

in complete silence ; we were thinking of the snow 
that covered the ground. When the man returned 
he declared that he had seen nothing. The dog kept 
up its ceaseless howling, and always from the same 
spot. 

" We sat down to dinner ; but we were all uneasy, 
especially the young people. Everything went well 
up to the roast, then the bell began to ring again, 
three times in succession, three heavy, long strokes, 
which vibrated to the tips of our fingers and 
stopped our conversation short. We sat there look- 
ing at each other, fork in the air, still listening, and 
shaken by a kind of supernatural fear. 

"At last my mother spoke: 'It's surprising that 
they should have waited so long to come back. Do 
not go alone, Baptiste ; one of these gentlemen will 
accompany you.' 

'^My Uncle Francois arose. He was a kind of 
Hercules, very proud of his strength, and feared 
nothing in the world. My father said to him : 'Take 
a gun. There is no telling what it might be.' 

"But my uncle took only a cane and went out 
with the servant. 

"The others remained there trembling with fear 
and apprehension, without eating or speaking. My 
father tried to reassure us: 'Just wait and see,' he 
said ; 'it must be some beggar or some traveler lost 
in the snow. After ringing once, seeing that the 
door was not immediately opened, he attempted 
again to find his way, and being unable to, he has 
returned to our door.' 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 169 

"Our uncle seemed to stay away an hour. At last 
he came back, furious, swearing: 'Nothmg at all; 
it's some practical joker! There is nothing but that 
damned dog howling away at about a hundred yards 
from the walls. If I had taken a gun I would have 
killed him to make him keep quiet.' 

"We sat down to dinner again, but every one was 
excited; we felt that all was not over, that some- 
thing was going to happen, that the bell would soon 
ring again. 

"It rang just as the Twelfth Night cake was being 
cut. All the men jumped up together. My Uncle 
Frangois, who had been drinking champagne, swore 
so furiously that he would murder it, whatever it 
might be, that my mother and my aunt threw them- 
selves on him to prevent his going. My father, al- 
though very calm and a little helpless (he had 
limped ever since he broke his leg when thrown by a 
horse), declared, in turn, that he wishedito find out 
what was the matter, and that he was going. My 
brothers, aged eighteen and twenty, ran to get their 
guns ; and as no one was paying any attention to me 
I snatched up a little rifle that was used in the 
garden and got ready to accompany the expedition. 

"It set out immediately. My father and uncle 
were walking ahead with Baptiste, who was carry- 
ing a lantern. My brothers, Jacques and Paul, fol- 
lowed, and I trailed on in spite of the prayers of 
my mother, who stood in front of the house with 
her sister and my cousins. 



170 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"It had been snowing again for an hour, and 
the trees were weighted down. The pines were 
bending under this heavy garment, and looked like 
white pyramids or enormous sugar-cones, and 
through the gray curtains of small hurrying flakes 
could be seen the lighter bushes, which stood out 
pale in the shadow. The snow was falling so thick 
that we could hardly see ten feet ahead of us. But 
the lantern threw a bright light immediately around 
us. When we began to go down the winding stair- 
way in the wall I really grew frightened. I felt as 
if someone were walking behind me, were going 
to grab me by the shoulders and carry me away, 
and I felt a strong desire to return ; but, as I would 
have had to cross the garden all alone, I did not 
dare. I heard someone opening the door leading to 
the plain ; my uncle began to swear again, exclaim- 
ing: 'By ! He has gone again! If I catch 

sight of even his shadow, I'll take care not to miss 
him, the swine!' 

"It was a discouraging thing to see this great 
expanse of plain, or, rather, to feel it before us, 
for we could not see it ; we could only see a thick, 
endless veil of snow, above, below, opposite, to the 
right, to the left, everywhere. My uncle continued : 
'Listen! There is the dog howling again; I will 
teach him how I shoot. That will be something 
gained, anyhow.' 

"But my father, who was kind-hearted, said: 
'It will be much better to go on and get the poor 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 171 

animal, which is crying for hunger. The poor fel- 
low is barking for help ; he is calling like a man 
in distress. Let us go to him.' 

"So we set out through the mist, through the 
thick, continuous fall of snow, which filled the air, 
which moved, floated, fell, and chilled the skin 
with a burning sensation like a sharp, rapid pain 
as each flake melted. We were sinking up to our 
knees in this soft, cold mass, and we had to lift our 
feet very high in order to walk. As we advanced 
the dog's voice became clearer and stronger. My 
uncle cried: 'Here he is!' We stopped to observe 
him as one does when he meets an enemy at night. 

"I could see nothing, so I ran up to the others, 
and I caught sight of him ; he was frightful and 
weird-looking; he was a big black shepherd's dog 
with long hair and a wolf's head, standing just 
within the gleam of light cast by our lantern on the 
snow. He did not move ; he was silently watch- 
ing us. 

"My uncle said: 'That's peculiar, he is neither 
advancing nor retreating. I feel like shooting him.' 

"My father answered firmly: 'No, we must cap- 
ture him.' 

•'Then my brother Jacques added: 'But he is not 
alone. There is something behind him.' 

"There was indeed something behind him, some- 
thing gray, impossible to distinguish. We advanced 
again cautiously. When he saw us approaching the 
dog sat down. He did not look wicked. Instead, 



172 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

he seemed pleased at having been able to attract 
some one's attention. 

"My father went straight to him and petted him. 
The dog licked his hands. We saw that he was 
tied to the wheel of a little carriage, a sort of toy 
carriage entirely wrapped up in three or four 
woolen blankets. We carefully took off these cov- 
erings, and as Baptiste held his lantern to the front 
of this little vehicle, which looked like a rolling 
kennel, we saw in it a little baby sleeping peacefully. 

"We were so astonished that we couldn't speak. 
My father was the first to collect his wits, and as he 
had a warm heart and a broad mind, he stretched 
his hand over the roof of the carriage, and said: 
'Poor little waif, you shall be one of us !' And he 
ordered my brother Jacques to roll the foundling 
ahead of us. Thinking aloud, my father continued : 

" 'Some child of love, whose poor mother rang at 
my door on this night of Epiphany in memory of 
the Child of God.' 

"He once more stopped and called at the top of 
his lungs to the four corners of the heavens : 'We 
have found it!' Then, putting his hand on his 
brother's shoulder, he murmured: 'What if you 
had shot the dog, Frangois?' 

"My uncle did not answer, but in the darkness he 
crossed himself, for, notwithstanding his blustering 
manner, he was very religious. 

"The dog, which had been untied, was follow- 
ing us. 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 173 

"Ah! But you should have seen us when we got 
to the house! At first we had great trouble in 
getting the carriage up through the winding stair- 
way; but we succeeded and even rolled it into the 
vestibule. 

" How funny mamma was ! How happy and as- 
tonished! And my four little cousins (the young- 
est was only six), they looked like four chickens 
around a nest. At last we took the child from the 
csjriage. It was still sleeping. It was a girl about 
six weeks old. In its clothes we found ten thou- 
sand francs in gold, yes, my boy, ten thousand 
francs ! — which papa saved for her dowry. There- 
fore, it was not a child of poor people, but, perhaps, 
the child of some nobleman and a little bourgeoise 
of the town — or again — we made a thousand sup- 
positions, but we never found out anything — never 
the slightest cue. The dog was recognized by no 
one. He was a stranger in our country. The per- 
son who rang three times at our door must have 
known my parents well, to have chosen them thus. 

''That is the way Mademoiselle Pearl entered the 
Chantal household at the age of six weeks. 

"Later she was called Mademoiselle Pearl. She 
was at first baptized 'Marie Simonne Claire,' Claire 
being intended for her family name. 

"I can assure you that our return to the dining- 
room was amusing, with this baby now awake and 
looking round her at the people and the lights 
with her vague blue questioning eyes. 

Vol. 2—12 



174 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"We sat down to dinner again and the cake was 
cut. I was king, and for queen I took Mademoi- 
selle Pearl, just as you did to-day. On that day she 
did not appreciate the honor that was being shown 
her. 

"The child was adopted and brought up in the 
family. She grew, and the years flew by. She was 
so gentle and loving and minded so well that every 
one would have spoiled her abominably had not my 
mother prevented it. 

"My mother was an elderly woman with a great 
respect for class distinctions. She consented to 
treat little Claire as she did her own sons, but, nev- 
ertheless, she wished the distance that separated 
us to be well marked, and our positions well estab- 
lished. Therefore, as soon as the child could under- 
stand, she acquainted her with her story and gently 
impressed on the little one's mind that, for the 
Chantals, she was an adopted daughter, taken in, 
but, nevertheless, a stranger. Claire understood 
the situation with peculiar intelligence and with 
surprising instinct ; she knew how to take the place 
that was allotted to her, and to keep it with so much 
tact, gracefulness and gentleness that she often 
brought tears to my father's eyes. My mother her- 
self was often so moved by the passionate gratitude 
and timid devotion of this little creature that she 
began calling her: 'My daughter.' At times, when 
the little one had done something kind and good, 
my mother would raise her spectacles on her fore- 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 175 

lead, a thing that always indicated emotion with 
her, and would repeat : 'This child is a pearl, a per- 
fect pearl!' This name stuck to the little Claire, 
who became and remained for us Mademoiselle 
Pearl.' 

M. Chantal stopped. He was sitting on the edge 
Df the billiard-table, his feet hanging, and was play- 
with a ball with his left hand, while with his 
right he crumpled a rag that served to rub the chalk 
marks from the slate. A little red in the face, his 
voice thick, he was talking away to himself now, 
lost in his memories, gently drifting through old 
scenes and events that awoke in his mind, just 
as we walk through old family gardens where we 
were brought up and where each tree, each walk, 
each hedge reminds us of some occurrence. 

I stood opposite him, leaning against the wall, my 
hands resting on my idle cue. After a slight pause 
he continued: 

"By Jove! She was pretty at eighteen — and 
Ufraceful — and perfect. Ah! She was so sweet — 
and good and true — and charming! She had such 
eyes — blue — transparent — clear — such eyes as I 
never have seen since!" 

He was once more silent. I asked : "Why did she 
never marry?" 

He answered, not to me, but to the word "marry" 
which had caught his ear: "Why, why? She never 
would — she never would! She had a dowry of 
thirty thousand francs, and she received several 



176 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

offers — but she never would! She seemed sad at 
that time. That was when I married my cousin, 
little Charlotte, my wife, to whom I had been en- 
gaged for six years." 

I looked at M. Chantal, and it seemed to me that 
I was looking into his very soul, and I was suddenly 
witnessing one of those humble and cruel tragedies 
of honest, straightforward, blameless hearts, one of 
those secret tragedies known to no one, not even 
the silent and resigned victims. A rash curiosity 
suddenly impelled me to exclaim : 

^^You should have married her. Monsieur Chan- 
tal!" 

He started, looked at me, and said: 

"I? Marry whom?" 

** Mademoiselle Pearl." 

''Why?" 

"Because you loved her more than your cousin." 

He stared at me with strange, round, bewildered 
eyes and stammered: 

"I loved her— I? How? Who told you that?" 

"Why, anyone can see that — and it's even on ac- 
count of her that you delayed for so long your mar- 
riage to your cousin, who had been waiting for you 
for six years." 

He dropped the ball that he was holding in his 
left hand, and, seizing the chalk-rag in both hands, 
he buried his face in it and began to sob. He was 
weeping with his eyes, nose and mouth, in a heart- 
breaking yet ridiculous manner, like a sponge that 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 177 

one squeezes. He was coughing, spitting and blow- 
ing his nose in the chalk rag, wiping his eyes and 
sneezing ; then the tears would flow again down the 
wrinkles on his face and he would make a strange 
gurgling noise in his throat. I felt bewildered, 
ashamed ; I wanted to run away, and I no longer 
knew what to say, do, or attempt. 

Suddenly Madame Chantal's voice sounded on the 
stairs. "Haven't you men almost finished your 
cigars ?" 

I opened the door and cried: "Yes, Madame, we 
are coming right down." 

Then seizing him by the shoulders, I cried,: 
"Monsieur Chantal, my friend Chantal, listen to 
me; your wife is calling; pull yourself together, 
we must go downstairs." 

He stammered: "Yes — yes — I am coming — poor 
girl ! I am coming — tell her that I am coming." 

He began conscientiously to wipe his face on the 
cloth which, for the last two or three years, had 
been used for marking off the chalk from the slate ; 
then he appeared, half white and half red, his fore- 
head, nose, cheeks and chin covered with chalk, and 
his eyes swollen, still full of tears. 

I caught him by the hands and dragged him into 
his bedroom, muttering: "I beg your pardon, I beg 
your pardon. Monsieur Chantal, for having caused 
you such sorrow — but — I did not know — you — you 
understand." 

He squeezed my hand, saying: "Yes — yes — there 
are difficult moments." 



178 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

Then he plunged his face into a bowl of water. 
When he emerged from it he did not yet seem to 
me to be presentable; but I thought of a little 
stratagem. As he was growing worried, looking at 
himself in the mirror, I said to him: "All you 
have to do is to say that a little dust flew into your 
eye and you can cry before everybody to your 
heart's content." 

He went downstairs rubbing his eyes with his 
handkerchief. All were worried ; each one wished 
to look for the speck, which could not be found; 
and stories were told of similar cases where it had 
been necessary to call in a physician. 

I went over to Mademoiselle Pearl and watched 
her, tormented by an ardent curiosity, which was 
turning to positive suffering. She must indeed have 
been pretty, with her gentle, calm eyes, so large 
that it looked as if she never closed them like other 
mortals. Her gown was a little ridiculous, a real 
old maid's gown, unbecoming without appearing 
clumsy. 

It seemed to me that I was looking into her soul, 
just as I had into Monsieur Chantal's; that I 
saw right from one end to the other of this humble 
life, so simple and devoted. I felt an irresistible 
longing to question her, to find out whether she had 
loved him ; whether she also had suffered, as he 
had, from this long, secret, poignant grief, which 
one cannot see, know, or guess, but which breaks 
forth at night in the loneliness of the dark room. 



MADEMOISELLE PEARL 179 

I was watching her, and I could observe her heart 
beating under her bodice, and I wondered whether 
this sweet, candid face had wept on the soft pil- 
low, her whole body shaken by the violence of her 
anguish. 

I said to her in a low voice, like a child who is 
breaking a toy to see what is inside: "If you could 
have seen Monsieur Chantal crying a while ago it 
would have moved you." 

She started, and asked: "What? He was weep- 



ing 



?» 



"Ah, yes, he was indeed weeping!" 

"Why?" 

She seemed deeply moved. I answered : 

"On your account." 

"On my account?" 

"Yes. He was telling me how much he had 
loved you in the days gone by ; and what a pang it 
had given him to marry his cousin instead of you." 

Her pale face seemed to grow a little longer ; 
her calm eyes, which always remained open, sud- 
denly closed so quickly that they seemed shut for- 
ever. She slipped from her chair to the floor, and 
slowly, gently sank as would a fallen garment. 

I cried: "Help! help! Mademoiselle Pearl is ill." 

Madame Chantal and her daughters rushed for- 
ward, and while they were looking for towels, water 
and vinegar, I seized my hat and ran away. 

I walked with rapid strides, my heart heavy, my 
mind full of remorse and regret. And yet some- 



180 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

times I felt pleased; I felt that I had done a 
praiseworthy and necessary act. I was asking my- 
self : "Did I do wrong or right?" They had that 
shut up in their hearts, just as some people carry a 
bullet in a closed wound. Will they not be happier 
now? It was too late for their torture to begin 
over again, yet early enough for them to remember 
it with tenderness. 

And perhaps some evening next spring, moved by 
a beam of moonlight falling through the branches 
on the grass at their if eet, they will join and press 
their hands in memory of all this cruel and sup- 
pressed suffering; and, perhaps, also this short em- 
brace may infuse in their veins a little of the thrill 
they would not have known without it, and will give 
to those two dead souls, brought to life in a second, 
the rapid and divine sensation of that intoxication, 
that madness, which gives to lovers more happiness 
in an instant than other men find in a lifetime. 



THE FARMER^S WIFE 

BARON RENf DU TREILLES said to me: 
"My dear boy, will you open the hunting sea- 
son with me at my farm at Marinville? I 
shall be delighted if you will. In the first place, I 
am all alone. It is rather a difficult ground to get 
at, and the place where I live is so primitive that 
I can invite only my most intimate friends." 

I accepted his invitation, and on Saturday w^e 
boarded the train for Normandy. We alighted at 
a station called Almivare, and Baron Rene, point- 
ing to a country wagonette drawn by a timid horse 
and driven by a big countryman with white hair, 
said: 
"Here is our equipage." 

The driver extended his hand to his landlord, 
and the Baron pressed it warmly, asking : 
"Maitre Lebrument, how are you?" 
"Always the same, M'sieu le Baron." 
We jumped into this swinging hencoop perched 
on two enormous wheels, and the young horse, af- 
ter a violent swerve, started into a gallop, pitching 
us into the air like balls. Every fall backward on 

181 



182 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

the wooden bench gave me the greatest discomfort 

The peasant kept repeating in his calm, monot- 
onous voice : 

"There, there! All right, all right, Moutard, 
all right!" 

But Moutard hardly heard, and capered along 
like a goat. 

Our two dogs behind us, in the rear part of 
the hencoop, were standing up and sniffing the air 
of the plains, where they scented game. 

The Baron gazed with a sad eye into the dis- 
tance at the vast Norman landscape, undulating and 
melancholy, like an immense English park, where 
the farmyards, surrounded by two or four rows of 
trees and full of dwarf apple-trees which hid the 
houses, gave a vista as far as the eye could see of 
forest trees, copses, and shrubbery such as land- 
scape gardeners look for in laying out the boun- 
daries of princely estates. 

And Rene du Treilles suddenly exclaimed : 

"I love this soil; I have my very roots in it." 

He was a pure Norman, tall and strong, with a 
slight paunch, and of the old race of adventurers 
who went to found kingdoms on the shores of every 
ocean. He was about fifty years of age, ten years 
younger perhaps than the farmer who was driv- 
ing us. 

The latter was a lean peasant, all skin and bone, 
one of those men who live a hundred years. 

After two hours' traveling over stony roads, 



THE FARMER'S WIFE 183 

across that green, monotonous plain, the vehicle 
entered one of those orchard farmyards and drew 
up before an old structure falling to decay, where 
an old maid-servant was waiting by the side of a 
young fellow, who took charge of the horse. 

We entered the farmhouse. The smoky kitchen 
was high and spacious. The copper utensils and 
the crockery shone in the reflection of the fire on 
the hearth. A cat lay asleep on a chair, a dog under 
the table. I perceived the odor of milk, of apples, 
of smoke, that indescribable smell peculiar to old 
farmhouses, the odor of the earth of the walls, of 
furniture, the odor of spilled stale soup, of washing, 
and of the old inhabitants, the smell of animals and 
of human beings combined, of things and of per- 
sons, the odor of time, and of things that have 
passed away. 

I went out to have a look at the farmyard. It 
was very large, full of apple-trees, dwarfed and 
crooked, and laden with fruit, which fell on the 
grass around them. In this farmyard the Norman 
smell of apples was as strong as that of the bloom 
of orange-trees on the shores of the south of 
France. 

Four rows of beeches surrounded this inclosure. 
They were so tall that they appeared to touch the 
clouds at this hour of nightfall, and their summits, 
through which the night winds passed, swayed and 
sang a mournful, interminable song. 

I re-entered the house. 



184 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The Baron was warming his feet at the fire, and 
was listening to the farmer's talk. He talked about 
marriages, births, and deaths, then about the fall in 
the price of grain and the latest news concerning 
cattle. The "Veularde" (as he called a cow that 
had been bought at the fair of Veules) had calved 
in the middle of June. The cider had not been 
first-class last year. Apricots were almost disap- 
pearing from the country. 

Then we had dinner. It was a good rustic meal, 
simple and abundant, long and tranquil. And while 
we were dining I noticed a special friendly fa- 
miliarity which had struck me from the start be- 
tween the Baron and the peasant. 

Outside, the beeches continued sighing in the 
night wind, and our two dogs, shut up in a shed, 
were whining and howling in an uncanny fashion. 
The fire was dyiri^ out in the big fireplace. The 
maid-servant had retired. Maitre Lebrument said 
in his turn: 

"If you don't mind, M'sieu le Baron, I'm go- 
ing to bed. I am not used to staying up late." 

The Baron extended his hand toward him and 
said: "Go, my friend," in so cordial a tone that I 
said, as soon as the man had disappeared : 

"He is devoted to you, this farmer?" 

"Better than that, my dear fellow ! It is a drama, 
an old drama, simple and very sad, that attaches 
him to me. Here is the story : 

"You know my father was a colonel in a cavalry 



THE FARMER'S WIFE 185 

regiment. His orderly was this young fellow, now 
an old man, son of a farmer. When my father 
retired from the army he took this former soldier, 
then abouty forty, as his servant. At that time I 
was about thirty. We were living in our old chateau 
of Valrenne, near Caudebec-en-Caux. 

"At this period my mother's chambermaid was 
one of the prettiest girls you could see, fair-haired, 
slender, and sprightly in manner, a genuine sou- 
brette of the old type that no longer exists. To-day 
these creatures spring up into hussies before their 
time. Paris, with the aid of railways, attracts 
them, calls them, takes hold of them, as soon as 
they are budding into womanhood, these little sluts 
who in old times remained simple maid-servants. 
Every man passing by — as recruiting sergeants did 
formerly, looking for recruits, with conscripts — en- 
tices and ruins them — these foolish lassies — and we 
have now only the scum of the female sex for 
servant-maids, all that is dull, common, and ill- 
formed, too ugly even for gallantry. 

"Well, this girl was charming, and I often gave 
her a kiss in dark corners ; nothing more, I swear 
to you ! She was virtuous, besides ; and I had some 
respect for my mother's house, which is more than 
can be said of the blackguards of the present day. 

"Now, it happened that my man-servant, the 
ex-soldier, the old farmer you have just seen, fell 
madly in love with this girl, absolutely daft. The 
first thing we noticed was that he forgot every- 
thing, paid no attention to anything. 



186 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"My father said frequently: 

" 'See here, Jean, what's the matter with you? 
Are you ill?' 

"He replied : 

" 'No, no, M'sieu le Baron. There's nothing 
the matter with me.' 

"He grew thin; when waiting on the table, he 
broke glasses and let plates fall. We thought he 
must have been attacked by some nervous affec- 
tion, and we sent for the doctor, who thought he 
detected symptoms of spinal disease. Then my 
father, full of anxiety about his faithful man-ser- 
vant, decided to place him in a private hospital. 
When the poor fellow heard of my father's inten- 
tions he made a clean breast of it. 

" 'M'sieu le Baron ' 

" 'Well, my boy?' 

" 'You see, the thing I want is not physic' 

" 'Ha! what is it,*then?' 

" 'It's marriage !' 

"My father turned round and stared at him itt 
astonishment. 

" 'What's that you say, eh ?' 

" 'It's marriage.' 

" 'Marriage. So, then, you jackass, you're in 
love.' 

" 'That's how it is. M'sieu le Baron. ^ 

"And my father began to laugh so immoder- 
ately that my mother called out irom the next 
room: 



THE FARMER'S WIFE 187 

" 'What in the world is the matter with you, 
Gontran ?' 

"He replied: 

i" 'Come here, Catherine.' 

"And when she came in he told her, with tears 
of laughter in his eyes, that his idiot of a servant- 
man was lovesick. 

"But my mother, instead of laughing, was deeply 
affected. 

" 'Who is it that you have fallen in love with, 
my poor fellow ?' she asked. 

"He answered without hesitation: 

" 'With Lx)uise, Madame le Baronne.* 

"My mother said with the utmost gravity: 'We 
must try to arrange this matter the best way we 
can.' 

"So Louise was sent for and questioned by my 
mother ; and she said in reply that she knew all 
about Jean's liking for her, that in fact Jean had 
spoken to her about it several times, but that she 
did not want him. She refused to say why. 

"And two months elapsed during which my 
father and mother never ceased to urge this girl to 
marry Jean. As she declared she was not in love 
with any other man, she could not give any serious 
reason for her refusal. My father at last over- 
came her resistance by means of a big present of 
money, and set up the pair on a farm — this very 
farm. I did not see them for three years, and then 
I learned that Louise had died of consumption. 



188 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

But my father and mother died, too, in their turn, 
and it was two years more before I found myself 
face-to-face with Jean. 

"At last one day about the end of October I took 
a notion to go hunting on this part of my estate, 
which my farmer had told me was full of game. 

"So one evening, one wet evening, I arrived at 
this house. I was shocked to find my father's old 
servant with perfectly white hair, though he was 
not more than forty-six years of age. I made him 
dine with me, at the very table where we are now 
sitting. It was raining hard. We could hear the 
rain battering at the roof, the walls, and the win- 
dows, flowing in a perfect deluge into the farmyard ; 
and my dog was howling in the shed where the 
other dogs are howling to-night. 

"All of a sudden, when the servant-maid had 
gone to bed, the man said in a timid voice: 

" 'M'sieu le Baron.' 

" 'What is it, my dear Jean?' 

" 'I have something to tell you.' 

" 'Tell it, my dear Jean.' 

" 'You remember Louise, my wife.' 

" 'Certainly, I remember her.' 

" 'Well, she left me a message for you.' 

" 'What was it?' 

" 'A — a — well, it was what you might call a 
confession.' 

" 'Ha! and what was it about?' 

" 'It was — it was — I'd rather, all the same, tell 



THE FARMER'S WIFE 189 

you nothing about it — but I must — I must. Well, 
it's this — it wasn't consumption she died of at all. 
It was grief — well, that's the long and short of it. 
As soon as she came to live here after we were mar- 
ried, she grew thin ; she changed so that you would 
not know her, M'sieu le Baron. She was as I was 
before I married her, but it was just the opposite, 
just the opposite. 

" *I sent for the doctor. He said it was her 
liver that was affected — he said it was what he 
called a "hepatic" complaint — I don't know these 
big words, M'sieu le Baron. Then I bought medi- 
cines for her, heaps on heaps of bottles that cost 
about three hundred francs. But she'd take none of 
them; she wouldn't have them; she said: "It's no 
use, my poor Jean ; it wouldn't do me any good." 
I saw well that she had some hidden trouble; and 
then one day I found her crying, and I didn't know 
what to do, no, I didn't know what to do. I bought 
her caps, and dresses, and hair-oil, and earrings. 
Nothing did her any good. And I saw that she was 
going to die. And so one night at the end of No- 
vember, one snowy night, after she had been in bed 
the whole day, she told me to send for the cure. 
So I went for him. As soon as he came — 

"'"Jean," she said, "I am going to make a 
confession to you. I owe it to you, Jean. I never 
have been false to you, never! never, before or 
after you married me. M'sieu le Cure is there, and 
can tell you so ; he knows my soul. Well, listen. 

Vol. 2—13 



190 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

Jean. If I am dying, it is because I was not able 
to console myself for leaving the chateau, because 
I was too fond of the young Baron, Monsieur Rene, 
too fond of him. Mind you, Jean, there was no harm 
in it ! This is the thing that's killing me. When I 
could see him no more I felt that I should die. If 
I could only have seen him, I might have lived, only 
seen him, nothing more. I wish you'd tell him 
some day, by and by, when I am no longer here. 
You will tell him, swear you will, Jean — swear it — 
in the presence of M'sieu le Cure! It will console 
me to know that he will know it one day, that this 
was the cause of my death ! Swear it !" 

" 'Well, I gave her my promise, M'sieu le Baron, 
and on the faith of an honest man I have kept 
my word.' 

"And then he ceased speaking, his eyes filling 
with tears. 

" Good God ! my dear boy, you can't form any 
idea of the emotion that filled me when I heard this 
poor devil, whose wife I had killed without suspect- 
ing it, telling me this story on that wet night in this 
very kitchen. 

"I exclaimed: 'Ah! my poor Jean! my poor 
Jean !' 

"He,murmured: 'Well, that's all, M'sieu le Baron. 
I could not help it, one way or the other — and 
now it's all over!' 

"I caught his hand across the table, and I began 
to weep. 



THE FARMER'S WIFE 191 

"He asked: 'Will you come and see her grave?' 
I nodded assent, for I couldn't speak. He rose 
and lighted a lantern, and we walked through the 
blinding rain by its light. 

''He opened a gate, and I saw some crosses of 
black wood. 

'* Suddenly he stopped before a marble slab and 
said: 'There it is,' and he flashed the lantern close 
to it so that I could read the inscription : 

" 'To Louise Hortense Marinet, 

" 'Wife of Jcan-Frangois Lebrument, Farmer. 

" 'She was a faithful wife. God rest her soul.' 

"We fell on our knees in the damp grass, he 
and I, with the lantern between us, and I saw the 
rain beating on the white marble slab. And I 
thought of the heart of her sleeping there in her 
grave. Ah ! poor heart ! poor heart ! 

"Since then I come here every year. And I 
don't know why, but I feel as if I were guilty of 
some crime in the presence of this man, who al- 
ways looks as if he forgave me.'' 



A COWARD 

HE was called " Handsome Signoles" in society, 
but his proper name and title were Vicomte 
Gontran- Joseph de Signoles. 

An orphan, and possessing an ample fortune, he 
cut quite a dash, as it is called. He had an attrac- 
tive appearance and manner, could talk well, had a 
certain instinctive elegance, an air of pride and no- 
bility, a fine moustache, and a tender eye, which al- 
ways finds favor with women. 

He was in great demand at receptions, waltzed to 
perfection, and was regarded by his own sex with 
that smiling hostility accorded to the popular so- 
ciety man. He had been suspected of more than 
one love affair calculated to enhance the reputation 
of a bachelor. He lived a happy, peaceful life — 
a life of physical and mental well-being. He had 
won considerable fame as a swordsman, and still 
more as a fine shot. 

"When the time comes for me to fight a duel," 
he said, "I shall choose pistols. With that weapon 
I am sure to kill my man." 

One evening, having accompanied two woman 

192 



A COWARD 193 

friends of his with their husbands to the theater, 
he invited them to take some ices at Tortoni's after 
the performance. They had been seated a few 
minutes in the restaurant when Signoles noticed 
that a man was staring persistently at one of the 
ladies. She seemed annoyed, and cast down her 
eyes. At last she said to her husband : 

"A man over there is looking at me. I don't 
know him; do you?" 

The husband, who had noticed nothing, glanced 
across at the offender, and said : 

"No; not at all." 

His wife continued, half smiling, half angry: 

"It is very annoying! He quite spoils my ice." 

The husband shrugged his shoulders. 

"Nonsense! Don't take any notice of him. If 
we were to heed all ill-mannered persons we should 
have no time for anything else." 

But the Viscount abruptly left his seat. He could 
not allow this insolent fellow to spoil an ice for a 
guest of his. It was for him to take cognizance of 
the offense, since it was through him that his 
friends had come to the restaurant. He approached 
the man and said : 

"Monsieur, you are staring at those ladies in a 
manner I cannot permit. I must ask you to desist 
from your rudeness." 

"Let me alone, will you?" the other replied. 

"Take care. Monsieur," said the Viscount be- 
tween his teeth, "or you will force me to extreme 
measures." 



194 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The man replied with a single word — a vile word, 
which could be heard from one end of the restau- 
rant to the other, and which startled everyone. All 
whose backs were toward the two disputants turned 
round ; the others raised their heads ; three waiters 
spun around on their heels like tops ; the two 
woman cashiers jumped, as if shot, then turned 
their bodies simultaneously, like automata worked 
by the same spring. 

There was dead silence. Then suddenly came a 
sharp, crisp sound. The Viscount had slapped his 
adversary's face. Everyone rose to interfere. Cards 
were exchanged. 

When the Viscount reached home he walked rap- 
idly up and down his room for some minutes. He 
was in a state of too great agitation to think con- 
nectedly. One idea alone possessed him: a duel. 
But this aroused in him as yet no emotion of any 
kind. He had done what he was bound to do; he 
had proved himself to be what he ought to be. He 
would be talked about, approved, congratulated. 
He repeated aloud, speaking as one does v/hen un- 
der the stress of great mental disturbance: 

"What a brute of a man!" 

Then he sat down and began to reflect. He must 
find seconds as soon as morning came. Whom 
should he choose? He thought of the most influ- 
ential and best-known men of his acquaintance. 
His choice fell at last on the Marquis de la Tour- 
Noire and Colonel Bourdin — a nobleman and a sol- 



A COWARD 195 

dier. That would be just the thing. Their names 
would look well in the newspapers. He was thirsty, 
and drank three glasses of water, one after an- 
other; then he walked up and down again. If he 
showed himself brave, determined, prepared to face 
a duel in deadly earnest, his adversary would prob- 
ably draw back and proffer excuses. 

He picked up the card he had taken from his 
pocket and thrown on a table. He read it again, 
as he had already read it, first at a glance in the 
restaurant, and afterward on the way home in the 
light of the gas lamp: "'Georges Lamil, 51 Rue 
Moncey." That was all. 

He examined closely this collection of letters, 
which seemed to him mysterious, fraught with many 
meanings. Georges Lamil ! \\'ho was the man ? 
What was his profession? Why had he stared so 
at the woman? W'as it not monstrous that a 
stranger, an unknown, should thus all at once upset 
one's whole life, simply because it had pleased him 
to stare rudely at a woman? And the Viscount 
once more repeated aloud : "What a brute !" 

Then he stood motionless, thinking, his eyes still 
fixed on the card. Anger rose in his heart against 
this scrap of paper — a resentful anger, mingled with 
a strange sense of uneasiness. It was a stupid 
business altogether ! He took up a penknife which 
lay open within reach, and deliberately stuck it 
into the middle of the printed name, as if he were 
stabbing some one. 



196 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

So he must fight ! Should he choose swords or 
pistols? — for he considered himself the insulted 
party. With the sword he would risk less, but with 
the pistol there was some chance of his adversary 
backing out. A duel with swords is rarely fatal, 
since mutual prudence prevents the combatants 
from fighting close enough to each other for a point 
to enter very deep. With pistols he would seriously 
risk his life ; but, on the other hand, he might come 
out of the affair with flying colors, and without a 
duel after all. 

"I must be firm," he said. "The fellow will be 
afraid." 

The sound of his own voice startled him, and 
he looked nervously round the room. He felt un- 
strung. He drank another glass of water, and then 
began undressing, preparatory to going to bed. 

As soon as he was in bed he put out the light 
and shut his eyes. 

"I have all day to-morrow," he reflected, "for 
setting my affairs in order. I must sleep now, in 
order to be calm when the time comes." 

He was very warm in bed, but he could not suc- 
ceed in losing consciousness. He tossed and turned, 
lay five minutes on his back, then changed to his 
left side, then rolled over to his right. 

He was thirsty again, and rose to drink. Then 
a qualm seized him : 

"Can it be possible that I am afraid?" 

Why did his heart beat so uncontrollably at every 



A COWARD 197 

well-known sound in his room? When the clock 
was about to strike, the prefatory rattling of its 
spring made him start, and for several seconds he 
panted for breath, so unnerved was he. 

He began to reason with himself on the possi- 
bility of such a thing: 

"Could I by any chance be afraid?" 

No, indeed ; he could not be afraid, since he was 
resolved to proceed to the last extremity, since he 
was irrevocably determined to fight without flinch- 
ing. Yet he was so perturbed in mind and body 
that he asked himself : 

"Is it possible to be afraid in spite of oneself?" 

This doubt, this fearful question, took posses- 
sion of him. If an irresistible power, stronger 
than his own will, were to quell his courage, what 
would happen? He would certainly go to the place 
appointed; his will would force him that far. But 
supposing, when there, he were to tremble or faint ? 
He thought of his social standing, his reputation, 
his name. 

He suddenly determined to get up and look at 
himself in the mirror. He lighted his candle, and 
when he saw his face he hardly recognized it. He 
seemed to see before him a man he did not know. 
His eyes looked disproportionately large, and he 
was very pale. 

He remained standing before the mirror. He put 
out his tongue, as if to examine the state of his 
health, and suddenly the thought flashed into his 
mind: 



198 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"At this time the day after to-morrow I may be 
dead." 

And his heart throbbed painfully. 

"At this time the day after to-morrow I may be 
dead. This person in front of me, this 'I' whom 
I see in the glass, will perhaps be no more. What! 
Here I am, I look at myself, I feel myself to be 
alive — and yet in twenty-four hours I may be lying 
on that bed, with closed eyes, dead, cold, inani- 
mate." 

He turned round, and could see himself dis- 
tinctly, lying on his back on the couch he had just 
quitted. He had the drawn face and the limp hands 
of death. 

Then he became afraid of his bed, and to avoid 
seeing it went to his smoking-room. He mechanic- 
ally took a cigar, lighted it, and began walking to 
and fro. He was cold ; he took a step toward the 
bell, to wake his valet, but stopped with hand raised 
toward the bell-rope. 

"He would see that I am afraid!" 

Instead of ringing he made a fire himself. His 
hands quivered nervously as they touched vari- 
ous objects. His head grew dizzy, his thoughts 
confused, disjointed, painful ; a numbness seized his 
spirit, as if he had been drinking. 

And all the time he kept on saying : 

"What shall I do? What will become of me?" 

His whole body trembled spasmodically ; he rose, 
and, going to the window, drew back the curtains. 



A COWARD 199 

The day — a summer day — was breaking. The 
pink sky cast a glow on the city, its roofs, and its 
walls. A flush of light enveloped the awakened 
world, like a caress from the rising sun, and the 
glimmer of dawn kindled new hope in the breast of 
the Viscount. What a fool he was to let himself 
succumb to fear before anything was decided — be- 
fore his seconds had interviewed those of Georges 
Lamil, before he even knew whether he would have 
to fight or not! 

He made his toilet, dressed, and left the house 
with a firm step. 

He repeated as he went: 

"I must be firm — very firm. I must show that I 
am not afraid." 

His seconds, the Marquis and the Colonel, placed 
themselves at his disposal, and, having shaken him 
warmly by the hand, began to discuss details. 

"You want a serious duel?" asked the Colonel. 

"Yes — quite serious," replied the Viscount. 

"You insist on pistols?" put in the Marquis. 

"Yes." 

"Do you leave all the other arrangements in our 
hands?" 

With a dry, jerky voice the Viscount answered: 

"Twenty paces — at a gfiven signal — the arm to 
be raised, not lowered — shots to be exchanged until 
one or the other is seriously wounded." 

"Excellent conditions," declared the Colonel in a 
satisfied tone. "You are a good shot; all the 
chances are in your favor." 



200 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

They parted. The Viscount returned home to 
wait for them. His agitation, only temporarily al- 
layed, now increased momentarily. He felt, in 
arms, legs, and chest, a sort of trembling — a con- 
tinuous vibration ; he could not remain quiet, either 
sitting or standing. His mouth was parched, and 
he made every now and then a clicking movement 
of the tongue, as if to detach it from his palate. 

He attempted to take luncheon, but could not eat. 
Then it occurred to him to seek courage in drink, 
and he sent for a decanter of rum, of which he 
swallowed, one after another, six small glasses. 

A burning warmth, followed by a deadening of 
the mental faculties, ensued. He said to himself : 

"I know how to manage. Now it will be all 
right !" 

But at the end of an hour he had emptied the 
decanter, and his agitation was worse than ever. A 
mad longing possessed him to throw himself on 
the ground, to bite, to scream. Night fell. 

A ring at the bell so unnerved him that he had 
not the strength to rise to receive his seconds. 

He dared not even speak to them, wish them 
good day, utter a single word, lest his changed 
voice should betray him. 

"All is arranged as you wished," said the Colonel. 
"Your adversary claimed at first the privileges of 
the offended party; but he yielded almost at once, 
and accepted your conditions. His seconds are two 
military men." 



A COWARD 201 

"Thank you," said the Viscount. 

The Marquis added: 

"Please excuse us if we do not stay now, for 
we have many things to look after yet. We shall 
want a reliable doctor, since the duel is not. to end 
until a serious wound has been inflicted; and you 
know that bullets are not to be trifled with. We 
must select a spot near some house to which the 
wounded person can be carried if necessary. In 
fact, the arrangements will take us another two or 
three hours at least." 

The Viscount articulated for the second time: 

"Thank you." 

"You are all right?" asked the Colonel. "Quite 
calm ?" 

"Perfectly calm, thank you." 

The two men withdrew. 

When he was once more alone he felt as if 
he should go mad. His servant having lighted the 
lamps, he sat down at his table to write some let- 
ters. When he had traced at the top of a sheet of 
paper the words: "This is my last will and testa- 
ment," he started from his seat, feeling himself 
incapable of connected thought, of decision in re- 
gard to anything. 

So he was about to fight! He could no longer 
avoid it. What, then, possessed him? He wished 
to fight, he was fully determined to fight, and yet, 
in spite of all his mental efi^ort, in spite of the exer- 
tion of all his will power, he felt that he could not 



202 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

even preserve the strength necessary to carry him 
through the ordeal. He tried to conjure up a pic- 
ture of the duel, his own attitude, and that of his 
enemy. 

Now and then his teeth chattered' audibly. He 
thought he would read, and took down Chateau- 
yillard's Rules of Duelling. -'. Then he said : 
i- "Is the other man practised in the use of the 
pistol? Is he well known? How can I find out?" 

He remembered Baron de Vaux's book on marks- 
men, and searched it from end to end. Georges 
Lamil was not mentioned. And yet, if he were not 
an adept, would he have accepted without demur 
such a dangerous weapon and such deadly condi- 
tions ? 

He opened a case of Gastinne Renettes which 
stood on a small table, and took from it a pistol. 
Next he stood in the correct attitude for firing, and 
raised his arm. But he was trembling from head 
to foot, and the weapon shook in his grasp. 

Then he said to himself: 

"It is impossible. I cannot fight like this." 

He looked at the little black, death-spitting hole 
at the end of the pistol ; he thought of dishonor, of 
the whispers at the clubs, the smiles in his friends' 
drawing-rooms, the contempt of women, the veiled 
sneers of the newspapers, the insults that would be 
showered on him by cowards. 

He still looked at the weapon, and, raising the 
hammer, saw the glitter of the priming below it. 



A COWARD 203 

The pistol had been left loaded by some chance, 
some oversight. The discovery rejoiced him, he 
knew not why. 

If he did not maintain, in presence of his op- 
ponent, the steadfast bearing which was so neces- 
sary to his honor, he would be ruined forever. He 
would be branded, stigmatized as a coward, 
hounded out of society ! And he felt, he knew, that 
he could not maintain that calm, unmoved de- 
meanor. And yet he was brave, since — the thought 
that followed was not even rounded to a finish in 
his mind; but, opening his mouth wide, he suddenly 
plunged the barrel of the pistol as far back as his 
throat, and pressed the trigger. 

When the valet, alarmed at the sound of the 
shot, rushed into the room he found his master 
lying dead upon his back. A spurt of blood had 
splashed the white paper on the table, and had 
made a great crimson stain beneath the words: 

"This is my last will and testament." 



MOUNT OLIVET 

WHEN the men of the small port of Garan- 
dou, in the Bay of Pisca, between Mar- 
seilles and Toulon, in Provence, saw the 
boat of the Abbe Vilbois returning from his fishing 
expedition, they came to the beach to assist him. 

The abbe was alone in it, and he was rowing like 
a true mariner, with rare energy, in spite of his 
fifty-eight years. With his sleeves rolled up over 
his muscular arms, his cassock drawn up between 
his knees, and some buttons open over his breast, 
his three-cornered hat on the bench beside him, and 
wearing a white bell-shaped hat, he looked like a 
substantial ecclesiastic of the southern countries, 
made for adventures rather than for saying mass. 

From time to time he looked behind and gauged 
the point of landing, and then continued to row, 
with strong, rhythmic and methodic strokes, to 
demonstrate once again to these poor sailors of 
the Midi how the men from the North swim. 

The boat, urged forward by his oars, finally 
touched the sand and glided over it as if to trace a 
line with its keel ; then it stopped short, and the 

204 



MOUNT OLI\ET 205 

five men who were watching the cure, approached, 
evidently pleased to see him back. 

"Well, Monsieur le cure, have you had good 
luck?" asked one with a strong Provencal accent. 

The Abbe Vilbois drew in his oars, took off his 
bell-shaped hat and put on his three-cornered one, 
unrolled his sleeves, buttoned his cassock, and 
having thus resumed his wonted bearing and ap-i 
pearance, he replied proudly : 

"Yes, very good, three red-snappers, two eels 
and some sunfish." 

The five fishermen, hanging over the edge of the 
boat, critically examined the dead fish, the fat snap- 
pers, the flat-headed eels, hideous sea-serpents, and 
the violet sunfish, with zigzag golden and orange- 
colored stripes. 

"I will carry them to your house, Monsieur le 
cure," said one of the men. 

"Thank you, my good fellow," replied the cure. 

After shaking them all by the hand, the cure set 
out for his home, followed by one of the men and 
leaving the others to look after his boat. 

He w-alked with a long, slow stride, with an air 
of strength and dignity. Being still heated with the 
exertion of rowing, he now and again took off 
his Rat when passing under the light shadow of the 
olive trees, exposing to the warm evening air, which 
was slightly fanned by a breeze from the sea, his 
square forehead framed in by his straight, close-cut 
hair, the forehead of an officer rather than of a 

Vol. 2—14 



206 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

priest. The village in front of them was on an ele- 
vation in the middle of a large valley sloping down 
to the sea. 

It was an evening in July. The brilliant sun had 
almost reached the serried summits of the distant 
hills, and the lengthening shadow of the ecclesiastic, 
enveloped in dust, fell upon the white road, while 
the immense three-cornered hat appeared like a 
black spot in the neighboring field, climbing from 
olive tree to olive tree and then jumping down on 
the ground between the trees. 

The abbe's feet raised a cloud of fine dust, that 
impalpable flour which covers in summer all the 
roads in Provence. It whirled about his cassock, 
covering it around the bottom with a strip of 
gray. He was now striding along, with his hands 
in his pockets, and the slow, strong step of a 
mountaineer. His calm eyes looked at his village, 
where he had been cure for twenty years. This 
village, chosen by him, had been obtained as an 
especial favor, and he hoped to die there. His 
church rose above the houses clustered around it. 
Its two towers of brown stone, square and irregu- 
lar, which reared their silhouettes out of this lovely 
valley of the Midi, seemed more like the defenses 
of a strong castle than the belfries of a sacred 
building. 

The abbe was content because he had caught three 
red-snappers, two eels, and five sunfish. 

He would have this new little triumph before his 



MOUNT OLIVET 207 

parishioner?, who respected him perhaps because 
in spite of his age he was the best developed man 
in that country. These innocent little vanities were 
his greatest pleasure. He could cut the stems of 
flowers with his pistol ; he sometimes fenced with 
his neighbor, the tobacco-dealer, an ex-army offi- 
cer, and he swam better than any other person on 
the coast. 

He had been a man of the world, very well known 
in his time, and very elegant, the Baron de Vilbois, 
who had entered the priesthood at the age of thirty- 
two, because of an unfortunate love affair. 

He was the scion of an old family of Picardy, 
Royalist and religious, whose male members for 
several centuries had entered the army, official life, 
or the priesthood, and he at first contemplated tak- 
ing holy orders. But at the instance of his father 
he decided to go to Paris, study law, and then seek 
some good appointment in the Palais. 

But before he had completed his course his father 
died of pneumonia, and his mother soon followed, 
overcome with grief. Coming thus into possession 
of a great fortune, he renounced all his ideas of a 
career, satisfied with living as a man of wealth. 

But one day he fell in love with a young actress, 
whom he had met at a friend's house ; she was a 
very young pupil of the Conservatory, and had 
made a brilliant debut at the Odeon. 

He loved her with all the violence and passion of 
a man born to believe in absolute ideas. He fell in 



208 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

love with her by seeing her in the role in which she 
achieved a starthng success on her first appearance. 

She was pretty, naturally perverse, with the na'ive 
air of a child, which he called her angelic air. She 
obtained absolute control of him, turning him into 
one of those delicious slaves, one of those madmen 
in ecstasy, whom a woman's glance or a woman's 
skirt will fling upon the stake of mortal passion. 
He made her his mistress, took her from the 
stage, and loved her for four years with an ever 
increasing ardor. And he would have married her 
in the end, in spite of his name and the traditions 
of honor of his family, had he not discovered that 
for a long time she had been deceiving him with 
the friend who had introduced him to her. 

This discovery was all the more terrible as she 
was enceinte, and he was only waiting for the birth 
of the child in order to marry her. 

When he held the proofs in his hand, letters 
accidentally found in a drawer, he reproached her 
with her infidelity, her perfidy, and her ignorance, 
with all the brutality of the semi-barbarian that he 
was. 

But she, a child of the streets, as impudent as 
she was shameless, sure of the other one as she 
had been of this one, and fearless like all the 
women of the people, who mount upon the barri- 
cades in mere foolhardiness, braved and insulted 
him ; and as he was raising his hand against her, she 
showed him her figure. He stopped short, turning 



MOUNT OLIVET 209 

pale at the thought that a descendant of his was 
there, in that sulHed flesh, in that vile body, in that 
impure creature — yes, his own child. At that 
thought he threw himself upon her, to crush them 
both, to wipe out the double shame. She was 
afraid, and believing herself lost, as she was rolling 
on the floor under his fist, and seeing his raised foot 
ready to trample upon her body wherein the human 
embryo was living, she cried, with hands out- 
stretched to ward off the blows : 

"Don't kill me! It is not yours — it belongs to 
him !" 

He started back, so dumbfounded that his fury 
was suspended, like his fist, and he stammered : 

"You — you say " 

And she, mad with fear before the menace of 
death in the eyes and the terrifying gesture of the 
man, repeated: 

"It is not yours, it belongs to him." 

"The child?" he muttered, througli clenched 
teeth. 

"Yes." 

"You lie!" 

And again he moved, with the gesture of a man 
about to crush someone, while his mistress, having 
risen to her feet, attempted to draw away from him, 
stammering : 

"I tell you that it belongs to him. If it were 
yours, should I not have had it long ago?" 

This argument struck him as true. He felt con- 



210 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

vinced, in one of those instantaneous flashes of 
thought wherein aJl the threads of reasoning ap- 
pear at the same time, with an illuminating clarity, 
precise, irrefutable, conclusive, irresistible, and he 
was sure that he was not the father of this miser- 
able beggar's child, and, relieved, delivered, almost 
calmed, of a sudden, he decided not to kill this in- 
famous creature. 

He said to her in a somewhat calmer voice : 

"Get up, go away, and let me never see you 
again." 

She went away. And he never saw her again. 

He also went away, going toward the Midi, 
toward the sun, and stopped in a village in the mid- 
dle of a valley, on the shore of the Mediterranean. 
An inn looking out upon the sea attracted him, and 
he took a room there. For eighteen months he 
stayed there in complete isolation, given over to 
sorrow and despair. He lived there with the de- 
vouring memories of the false woman, dwelling on 
her unforgetable charm and witcheries, and long- 
ing for her presence and her caresses. 

He roamed the valley of Provence in the sunlight 
checkered with the gray foliage of the olives, his 
head sick with an obsession. 

Then the pious ideas and the tempered ardor of 
his early faith stole softly into his heart in this sor- 
rowful solitude. Religion, which formerly had ap- 
peared to him as a refuge from the life unknown, 
now seemed to him like a refuge from the life of 



MOUNT OLIVET 211 

treachery and torture. He had retained the habit 
of prayer. He now clung to it in his grief, and he 
often went at nightfall to kneel in the dark church, 
where only one lamp was burning at the end of the 
choir, the sacred guardian of the sanctuary, the 
symbol of the Divine presence. 

He confided his trouble to this God, his God, tell- 
ing Him his whole misery. He asked for God's 
counsel, pity, help, protection, and consolation, and 
every day he prayed more fervently. 

His wounded heart remained open and palpitat- 
ing; and little by little, consequent upon his prayers, 
his hermit life, with the habits of piety always 
increasing, and giving himself up to this secret com- 
munication of devout souls with the Savior, who 
consoles and draws to Him the miserable ones of 
earth, the mystic love of God entered into him and 
overcame the other love. 

Then he returned to his first project and decided 
to offer to the Church a broken life, which he had 
not given to her while it was virgin. 

He became a priest. Through his family con- 
nections, he succeeded in obtaining the charge of 
the Provengal village where chance had led him. 
He gave a large part of his fortune to charitable 
institutions, retaining only enough to live a useful 
life until his death, in aiding the poor, and he re- 
tired into the calm existence of practical piety and 
devotion to his fellow men. 

He made a good priest, but with limited out- 



212 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

look, being a kind of religious guide with the tem- 
perament of a soldier who by main force would 
lead erring humanity back into the narrow way — 
bhnd humanity lost in this forest of life where 
all our instincts, our tastes, our desires, only lead 
us astray. But much of the man of olden days re- 
mained aHve in him. He still loved violent exercise, 
and he detested all women with the fear of a child 
before a mysterious danger. 

The sailor who was following the priest felt a 
truly southern desire to talk. Finally he sum- 
rnoned up courage and said : 
'"' '''Then you are comfortable in your lodge?'' 

This lodge was one of those diminutive houses 
where the people of the towns and villages of the 
Provence go to get fresh air. The abbe had rented 
this house, which stood in a field, about five min- 
utes' walk from his parsonage; the latter was too 
small and shut-up, close by the church, in the mid- 
dle of the village. 

He did not live in this country house regularly, 
not even in summer, but spent a few days there 
from time to time, to live among the greenery and 
to practise pistol-shooting. 

"Yes," he replied, "I am very comfortable there." 

The low house rose out of the midst of the trees ; 
it was painted pink, and seemed all checkered and 
cut up by the leaves and branches of olive trees, 
It seemed to have grown there like a mushroom. 

A tall woman busied herself in front of the door, 



MOUNT OLIVET 213 

setting a small table for dinner. Slowly and de- 
liberately she brought out, one piece at a time, a 
cover, a plate, a napkin, a piece of bread, a glass. 
She wore the little bonnet of the women of Aries, 
a cone made of black silk or velvet and decorated 
with a white champignon. 

When the abbe came within hailing distance, he 
called to her: 

*'Eh, Marguerite?" 

She stopped short, looked around, and replied : 

"Is that you. Monsieur le cure?" 

"Yes, I bring you a good catch, and you will at 
once grill a sunfish for me with butter, nothing but 
butter." 

The w'oman, coming to meet the men, critically 
examined the fish held by the sailor. 

"But we already have a chicken with rice," she 
said. 

"That's too bad; fish a day old is never so good 
as fish fresh from the water. But I will treat my- 
self to a little feast, which does not happen very 
often ; and besides, the catch is not very great." 

The woman took the fish, and as she turned to go 
she said : 

"A man has been here three times to see you. 
Monsieur le cure." 

"A man? What kind of man?" he asked indif- 
ferently. 

"A man whose person is not a recommendation." 

"What, a beggar?" 



214 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"Perhaps; I don't say he is not. I should rather 
call him a maonfatan." 

The abbe began to laugh on hearing this Pro- 
vencal word, which means felon or tramp, for he 
knew the timid disposition of Marguerite, who 
could not stay at the lodge without imagining all 
day, and especially at night, that they would be 
assassinated. 

He gave a few sous to the sailor, who went away, 
when Marguerite called out to him from the 
kitchen, where she was scraping the fish, whose 
scales, somewhat colored with blood, flew up like 
tiny bits of silver : 

"There he is!" 

The abbe turned toward the road, where he saw a 
man who, at that distance, appeared to be very ill 
clad, and who was coming slowly toward the house. 
The abbe stood awaiting him, smiling still at the 
fear of his servant, and thinking: "Indeed, I think 
that she is right ; he really looks like a maonfatan." 

The stranger approached slowly, with his hands 
in his pockets. He was young, and had a blond, 
curly beard ; stray locks of hair hung down beneath 
his soft gray felt hat, which was so dirty and shape- 
less that it would have been impossible to guess its 
original color and form. He wore a long, dark- 
brown overcoat, trousers that were frayed around 
the ankles, and linen shoes with soft soles that gave 
him a noiseless, disquieting step, the silent step of 
the tramp. 



MOUNT OLIVET 215 

A few feet from the priest he took off his hat 
with a somewhat theatrical air, disclosing a bald 
head, and a withered, sensual, but shapely face, 
with the marks of fatigue or of precocious de- 
bauchery, for he was surely not more than twenty- 
five years old. 

The priest also took off his hat, for he felt that 
this was not an ordinary vagabond, an unem- 
ployed working-man or a jail-bird roaming around 
between two terms of prison, and hardly knowing 
any other language than the mysterious slang of the 
cells. 

"Good day, Monsieur le cure," said the man. 

"I greet you," replied the cure simply, not car- 
ing to address this suspicious and ragged pedestrian 
as monsieur. They looked steadily at each other, 
and in the face of this tramp the Abbe \'ilbois felt 
uneasy and moved as before an unknown enemy, 
overcome by one of those strange attacks of fear 
that make flesh and blood shiver. 

Finally the tramp said, "Well, do you recognize 
me?" 

"I? Not at all; I don't know you," replied the 
priest, greatly astonished. 

"Ah, you don't know me. Look at me more 
closely." 

"Look at you as I will, I never have seen you." 

"That is true," said the tramp ironically, "but 
I will show you someone whom you know better." 

He put on his hat and unbuttoned his overcoat, 



216 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

showing his naked breast. A red belt, twisted 
around his thin body, held his trousers above his 
hips. 

He took an envelope out of his pocket, one of 
those indescribable envelopes covered with all sorts 
of spots, one of those envelopes in which tramps 
are wont to keep all their papers, genuine or false, 
stolen or their own, the precious protectors of their 
liberty against any police they may meet. Out of 
it he drew a photograph, one of those letter-size 
cardboards as they were made formerly, yellow, 
timeworn, having rubbed against the flesh of this 
man and being tarnished with the heat of his body. 

And lifting it to his face, he asked: "Do you 
know him?" 

The abbe stepped nearer to see better, then stood 
still, pale and startled, for it was his own likeness, 
made for Her, in the long-ago past of his days of 
love. 

He said nothing, not understanding. 

'*Do you know him?" the vagabond repeated. 

"Yes, I do," stammered the priest. 

"Who is it?" 

"It is I." 

" It is really you ?" 

"Why, yes." 

"Well, then look at both of us now, at your like- 
ness and at me." 

The unhappy man had already perceived that 
these two faces, the one of the photograph and the 



MOUNT OLIVET 217 

one who was laughing beside it, resembled each 
other like two brothers ; but still he did not under- 
stand, and he stammered: 

''Well, what do you want of me?" 

"What do I want? I want first of all that you 
should recognize me," the beggar said in a malicious 
tone. 

''But who are you?" 

"Who am I? Ask anyone on the road, ask your 
servant, let us go and ask the Mayor of this town, 
if you like, showing him this ; and he will laugh, I 
tell you. Ah, you don't want to recognize me as 
your son, papa cure?" 

Then the old man, raising his arms in a Biblical 
attitude of despair, groaned : 

"That is not true." 

The young man came quite close to him, face-to- 
face. 

''Ah, it is not true? Ah, abbe, you must stop 
lying, do you hear?" 

He looked threatening, standing there with his 
fists closed, and he spoke with such a violent tone 
of conviction that the priest, drawing back, asked 
himself which of the two was mistaken at this mo- 
ment. 

Yet he affirmed once again : 

"I never have had any child." 

"And no mistress, perhaps," retorted the tramp. 

The old man answered resolutely, with the one 
word "Yes," the proud avowal of his past. 



218 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"And this mistress was not with child when you 
drove her away?" 

Then suddenly the ancient anger, stifled twenty- 
five years before — no, not stifled, but ripened within 
the lover's heart — broke through the bounds of 
faith, of resigned devotion, of the renunciation of 
all that he had set upon her, and he cried : 

"I drove her away because she had deceived me 
and bore within her the child of another, without 
which fact I should have killed her, and you with 
her." 

The young man hesitated, surprised in turn by 
the genuine anger of the cure; then he said more 
softly : 

"Who told you that it was the child of another?" 

"Why, she — she herself, in braving me." 

Then the vagabond, not heeding this affirmation, 
said with the indifferent tone of a young ruffian 
who judges of a case : 

"Oh, well, mamma made a mistake, laughing at 
you." 

"And who told you that you were my son?" 
asked the abbe, regaining his self-control, after his 
outburst of fury. 

"Why, she, on her deathbed. Monsieur le cure. 
And then this." 

And he held the little photograph under the eyes 
of the priest. 

The old man took it, and, torn with anguish, he 
long and deliberately compared this passing stranger 



MOUNT OLIVET 219 

and his own former self and no longer doubted 
that it was his son. 

His heart felt compressed, and an inexpressible, 
frightfully painful feeling came over him, like re- 
morse for a crime. Understanding a little, and 
divining the rest, he again beheld the brutal scene 
of that separation. It was to save her life from 
the fury of the outraged man, that the deceitful and 
perfidious woman had flung that lie at him. The 
lie had succeeded, and a son by him had been born, 
had grown up, and had become this low vagabond, 
who smelled of vice as a goat smells of the beast. 

"Will you walk with me a little, that we may 
explain things better?" 

"That's exactly what I came here for," said the 
other with a grin. 

They went together, side by side, through the 
grove of olives. The sun was gone. The abbe shiv- 
ered, and suddenly raising his eyes w^ith the move- 
ment habitual to the officiant, he saw around him 
the small grayish foliage of the holy tree which had 
sheltered beneath its frail shadow the greatest sor- 
row, the one single feebleness of the Christ. 

A prayer rose to his lips, short and full of de- 
spair, uttered with that interior voice which does 
not pass beyond the mouth, and with which the 
believers implore the Saviour: "O God, help me!" 

Then, turning to his son : 

"You say that your mother is dead?" 

A new sorrow awoke within him in uttering these 



220 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

words, and chilled his heart, the misery of the flesh 
of the man who never has forgotten, and a cruel 
echo of the torture he had suffered, but still more, 
perhaps, since she was dead, a trembling remem- 
brance of that short and delirious joy of youth 
of which nothing now remained but the wound in 
his memory. 

"Yes, Monsieur le cure, my mother is dead," 
replied the young man. 

"Long ago?" 

"Yes, three years." 

Then a new doubt came over the priest. 

"\\'hy did you not come sooner to find me?" 

The other one hesitated. 

"I could not. There were things to keep me. 
Pardon me for interrupting these confidences, of 
which I will tell you more later, with as many de- 
tails as you wish, but I will say now that I have 
eaten nothing since yesterday morning." 

A shock of pity came over the old man, and sud- 
denly holding out his hands, he said, "Oh, my poor 
child !" 

The young man grasped those large outstretched 
hands, which closed around his more slender fin- 
gers, which were moist and feverish. And he said 
with the suavity which he had shown throughout : 

" Good ! I really am beginning to think that we 
shall understand each other." 

"Come in to dinner," said the cure, going toward 
the house. 



MOUNT OLIVET 221 

He suddenly thought, with a little, instinctive, 
confused, bizarre sort of joy, of the fine fish he had 
caught, which, together with the chicken and rice, 
would make a good dinner for this wretched child. 

The Arlesian woman, restless and impatient, was 
waiting at the door. 

"Marguerite," cried the abbe, "take the table 
into the parlor, and set two plates, quick, quick." 

The servant stood dumbfounded at the thought 
that her master would dine with this felon. Then 
the Abbe Vilbois began himself to clear the table 
and take the cover set for him into the only room 
on the ground floor. 

Five minutes later he was sitting opposite the 
vagabond before a tureen full of cabbage soup, 
which sent up a thin vapor of hot steam between 
their faces. 

When the plates were served the tramp began to 
eat his soup greedily with great spoonfuls. The 
abbe was no longer hungry, and merely inhaled 
slowly the savory odor of the cabbage soup, leav- 
ing his bread on his plate. 

"What is your name?" he asked suddenly. 

The man laughed, satisfied with appeasing his 
hunger. 

"Unknown father," he said, "no other name than 
that of my mother, which you have probably not 
yet forgotten. But, instead, I have two given 
names, which, by the way, are not worth much : 
Philippe-Auguste." 

Vol. 2—15 



222 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The abbe, turning pale, asked, with a lump in 
his throat: 

"Why did they give you those names?" 

The vagabond shrugged. 

"You may guess. After leaving you, mamma 
wished to make your rival believe that I was his 
child, and he did think so until I was about fifteen 
years old. But then I began to look too much like 
you, and the wretch denied me. They had given 
me his two names, Philippe-Auguste ; and if I had 
had the good luck not to resemble anyone, or to be 
merely the son of a third rascal who never had 
shown up, I should now be called the Vicomte 
Philippe-Auguste de Pravallon, the tardily acknowl- 
edged son of the Viscount of the same name, Sena- 
tor. I have baptized myself 'Lack-luck.' " 

"How did you know all this?" 

"Because there were explanations before me, 
parblen! and violent ones, too. It is these things 
that make one know life." 

Something more painful and griping than any- 
thing he had felt and suffered for the last half hour 
oppressed the priest. It was a choking sensation, 
which came and grew upon him and would finally 
kill him, and it was not so much what he heard 
as the manner of speech and the sensual face of the 
young ruffian. He felt that between him and his 
son yawned a ditch of moral filth, which is a mor- 
tal poison to some souls. So this was his son? 
He couid not bring himself to believe it. He wished 



MOUNT OLIVET 223 

to have the full proofs, to learn all, hear all, suffer 
all. Again he thought of the olives that surrounded 
his lodge and again he murmured: ''O God, help 
me!" 

Philippe-Auguste had finished his soup. 

''Is there nothing more to eat. Abbe?" 

The kitchen being outside of the house, in an ad- 
joining building, where Marguerite could not hear 
his voice, the priest was wont to summon her by 
means of blows on a Chinese gong hung near the 
wall behind him. 

Accordingly he took the hammer and struck this 
gong several times. The sound, slight at first, 
increased, became more pronounced, vibrant, sharp, 
still more sharp, an ear-splitting, horrible plaint 
of the struck metal. 

The servant appeared, with set face, looking furi- 
ously at the maoufatan, as if guessing, with an in- 
stinct like that of a faithful dog, the drama unfold- 
ing around her master. She held in her hand the 
grilled fish, which sent up the savory odor of 
melted butter. The abbe split open the fish with a 
spoon, and, offering the filet of the back to the child 
of his youth, he said, with a remnant of pride re- 
maining through his sorrow: 

'*I caught it myself a while ago." 

Marguerite was still in the room. 

"Bring wine, some good white wine of the Cor- 
sican Cape," he said to her. 

She made a gesture, as if in revolt, and he had to 



224 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

repeat with an air of severity : " Go ! two bottles." 
For when he offered wine to anyone, which hap- 
pened rarely, he always treated himself to a full 
bottle. 

Philippe- Auguste murmured radiantly : 

"Fine! A good idea! It is a long time since I 
have eaten like this." 

The servant came back in two minutes. But they 
seemed an eternity to the abbe, who was sitting on 
coals, devoured with the desire to know all. 

The bottles were uncorked, but the woman still 
stood there, with her eyes on the strange man. 

"Leave us," said the cure. 

She pretended not to hear, and he repeated se- 
verely, "I have told you to leave us alone." 

Then she went. 

Philippe- Auguste ate the fish voraciously; and 
his father looked at him, more and more surprised 
and saddened to see so much that was low in the 
face that resembled him so strongly. The small 
bits that the abbe put into his mouth, stuck there, 
for he could not swallow anything; and he chewed 
these mouthfuls, searching among all the questions 
that came to his mind, the one to which he wanted 
the quickest answer. Finally he murmured: 

"Of what did she die?" 

"Of lung trouble." 

"Was she ill a long time?" 

"About eighteen months." 

"How did she get it?" 



MOUNT OLIVET 225 

"No one knows." 

They were silent. The abbe sat lost in thought. 
So many things that he wanted to know came to 
him, for he had heard nothing about her since the 
day of the rupture, since the day when he had al- 
most killed her. True, he had not wished to know 
anything, for he had resolutely flung her and the 
days of his happiness into the grave of oblivion ; but 
now that she was dead, the desire to know suddenly 
arose in him, a jealous desire, almost a lover's 
desire. 

"She was not alone?" he resumed. 

"No, she was always living with him." 

"With him — with Pravallon?" asked the old man 
startled. 

"Why, yes." 

And the man who had been betrayed realized that 
this same woman who had deceived him had lived 
more than thirty years with his rival. Almost 
in spite of himself he stammered : 

"Were they happy together?" 

"Why, yes, with up and downs," said the young 
man sneeringly. "They would have got on to- 
gether famously without me, but I always spoiled 
everything." 

"How and why?" asked the priest. 

"I have already told you. Because he thought 
that I was his son, up to the time I was fifteen 
years old. But he was not a fool, this old one; he 
himself discovered the resemblance, and then there 



226 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

were scenes. I was listening at the keyholes. He 
accused mamma of having got him into a mess. 
'Is it my fault?' she replied. 'You knew very 
well, when you took me, that I was the mistress of 
the other one. You were 'the other one.' " 

"Then they sometimes talked of me?" 

"Yes, but they never mentioned you by name 
before me, except at the very last, when mamma 
felt that her end had come. Still, they were dis- 
trustful." 

"And you — you found out early in life that your 
mother was living irregularly?" 

^'Parbleu, I'm not simple, and I never have been. 
One soon guesses at those things, when one begins 
to know life." 

Philippe- Auguste poured himself glass after glass. 
His eyes became brilliant, for his long fast now 
quickly sent the wine to his head. 

The priest noticed it ; he was about to stop him, 
then it occurred to him that if the young man be- 
came drunk he might talk more freely and unthink- 
ingly; and so, taking up the bottle, the abbe again 
filled his glass. 

Marguerite brought the chicken with rice. After 
placing it on the table, she again fixed her eyes upon 
the tramp, and said to her master with an air of 
indignation : 

"But see how dirty he is, Monsieur le cure." 

"Leave us alone, and go out," the priest replied. 

She went out, slamming the door. 



MOUNT OLIVET 227 

"What did your mother say about me?" asked 
the priest. 

"Why, what one usually says of a man whom 
one has left. That you were not the right kind, 
stupid for a woman to live with, and that you would 
have made life hard for her with your ideas." 

"Did she say that often?" 

"Yes; sometimes with subterfuges, so that I 
should not understand, but I guessed it all." 

"And how were you treated in this house?" 

"I? Very well at first, and then very badly. 
When mamma saw that I was spoiling things for 
her, she put me out." 

"How so?" 

"How so? Simple enough. When I was about 
sixteen I did some foolish tricks, and those two nice 
parents put me into a reformatory, to get rid of me." 

Putting his elbows on the table, he rested his 
cheeks on his hands, and, entirely drunk now, 
his mind befuddled with the wine, he was sud- 
denly seized with that irresistible desire to talk 
about himself which turns drunkards into fantastic 
braggarts. 

He smiled sweetly, with a feminine, perverse 
grace on his lips, which the priest recognized. He 
not only recognized it, but he felt it, hateful and 
caressing, that grace which had formerly conquered 
and then betrayed him. At this moment the child 
resembled its mother the most, not in feature, but 
in the captivating and false eye, and especially in 



228 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

the seduction of the deceitful smile, which seemed 
to open the mouth to all the infamies within. 

"Ah, ah, ah, but I have led a life!" began 
Philippe- Auguste, "after those days in the reforma- 
tory, a full kind of life, which a great novelist 
would pay dear to know. Really, Dumas pere, with 
his Monte Crista, has not invented so many situa- 
tions as I have found myself in." 

He stopped, looking grave like a philosopher 
lost in thought, then he continued slowly: 

"If you want to have a boy turn out well, you 
must never send him to a reformatory, because of 
the acquaintances he will make there. Mine was 
a good one, but it turned out badly. As I was 
walking on the turnpike near the ford of Faloc, one 
evening with three comrades, all four of us a little 
intoxicated, I met a carriage, in which the driver 
and all his family were sleeping; they were peo- 
ple from Martinon, who were returning from a 
dinner in town. I took the horse by the bridle, 
made it go upon the raft used as a ferry, and pushed 
the raft into the river. The noise this made woke 
up the driver, who, not seeing clearly, whipped up 
the horse, which jumped into the water with the 
carriage. All were drowned. My comrades told 
on me, though they laughed loudly at first on seeing 
me play this trick. We really didn't think it would 
turn out so badly. We simply thought to give the 
people a bath, and laugh at them. 

"After that I did worse things, to get even for 



MOUNT OLIVET 229 

the punishment I got for that one. I really did not 
deserve it, but it is not worth while to tell you all 
this. I will merely tell my last escapade, because 
you will like that one, I'm sure. I have revenged 
you, papa!" 

The abbe was looking at his son with terrified 
eyes ; he was no longer eating. 

As Philippe-Auguste was about to continue, the 
priest said: 

'^Not now — later." 

Turning around, he struck the Chinese gong, 
which emitted its strident noise. 

Marguerite appeared at once, and her master said : 

"Bring in the lamp and whatever else you have 
to put on the table, and then you will not come in 
again until I strike the gong." 

He said this in such a harsh tone that she hung 
her head, frightened and obedient, and went out. 
She soon came in again, with a white porcelain lamp 
with a green shade ; she placed this on the table, 
together with a large piece of cheese and some 
fruit, and then went out again. 

" Now I will hear what you have to say," said the 
abbe resolutely. 

Philippe-Auguste calmly finished his dessert and 
his wine. The second bottle was nearly empty, 
although the cure had not touched it. 

The young man said, stammering, his mouth 
smeared with food and dirt : 

"The last one, here it is. This is a strong one. 



230 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

I had come back to the house; and I stayed there 
in spite of them — because — because they were afraid 
of me — afraid of me ! Ah, one must not bore me, 
I'm capable of anything when I am bored. You 
know — they were hving together, and yet not to- 
gether. He had two estabHshments, one as a sena- 
tor and one as a lover. But he lived with mamma 
much more than in his own home, for he could 
no longer live without her. Ah, she was a clever 
one, and a strong one — was mamma. She knew 
how to keep a man. She had taken possession of 
him body and soul, and she kept him to the end. 
Men are such fools ! Well, I had come home, and 
I lorded it over them by making them afraid of me. 
I am a sly one, if need be, and as for malice, tricks, 
and even fisticuffs, I'm not afraid of any one. Then 
mamma got sick, and he installed her in a fine coun- 
try house near Meulan, in the middle of a park as 
large as a forest. This lasted about eighteen 
months, as I have told you. Then we saw the end 
approaching. He came every day from Paris, and 
he was filled with grief, yes, real grief. 

"One morning they had been talking for more 
than an hour, and I was wondering what they could 
be chattering about for such a time, when finally 
they called me in, and mamma said to me : 

" T am about to die, and there is something that 
I wish to reveal to you, in spite of the advice of 
the Comte' — she always called him 'Comte' in 
speaking of him. Tt is the name of your father, 
who is still living.' 



MOUNT OLIVET 231 

"I had asked her this name more than a hundred 
times — more than a hundred times — the name of 
my father — more than a hundred times — and she 
had always refused to tell me. I even think that 
one day I boxed her ears, to make her talk, but she 
would not. Then, to get rid of me, she told me that 
you had died, without a sou, that you did not 
amount to much, it was merely a mistake of her 
youth, a mere girl's fancy. She told me this so 
convincingly that I really believed you were dead. 

"Accordingly she said to me: 

" 'This is your father's name.' 

"The other one, who was sitting in an arm- 
chair, repeated three times, like this : 'You make 
a mistake, you make a mistake, you make a mis- 
take. Rosette.' 

"Mamma sat up in her bed. I still see her, with 
her red cheeks and her brilliant eyes, for she really 
loved me, all the same, and she said to him : 'Then 
you do something for him, Philippe.' 

"In speaking to him, she addressed him as 
Philippe, and she called me Auguste. 

"He began to laugh like a crazy man. 

" 'For that love-child, that good-for-nothing, that 
jail-bird, that— that— that ' 

"And he hurled epithets at me, as if he never 
had done anything else in his life. 

" I was about to get angry, when mamma stopped 
me, saying to him : 

" 'Then you want him to die of hunger, as I 
have nothing myself.' 



232 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"He replied, undisturbed: 

" 'Rosette, I have given you thirty-six thousand 
francs a year for thirty years, which makes more 
than a milHon. You have lived with me as a rich 
woman, a well-beloved woman, and, I dare say, a 
happy woman. I owe nothing to this beggar, who 
has spoiled our last years together, and he shall 
have nothing from me. It is useless to insist upon 
it. Give him the name of the other, if you wish to 
do so. I am sorry, but I wash my hands.' 

''Then rtiamma turned toward me. 'Good!' 
I said to myself, 'Now I shall find my real father. 
If he has money, I am saved.' 

"She continued: 

" 'Your father, the Baron de Vilbois, is now the 
Abbe Vilbois, cure of Garandou near Toulon. He 
was my lover when I left him for this one.' 

"And then she told me everything. But women, 
you know, never tell the truth." 

He was grinning, unconsciously, revealing all his 
foulness. He was still drinking, and with face 
still hilarious, he continued: 

"Mamma died two days later — two days. We 
followed her to the cemetery — he and I — and three 
servants — that was all. He cried like a cow — we 
were close together — one might have said, father 
and son. 

"Then we came back to the house. Only we 
two. I said to myself: 'Now I must skip, with- 
out a sou.' I had exactly fifty francs. What could 
I do now to get even ? 



MOUNT OLIVET 233 

" 'I wish to speak to you.' he said to me. 

"I followed him to the study. He sat down be- 
fore his table and, whining in his tears, he said 
he would not treat me as badly as he had main- 
tained before mamma ; he also asked me not to bore 
you. But that concerns us two, you and me. He 
offered me a thousand-franc bill ! One thousand 
— one thousand — what can I do with one thousand 
francs, a man like me ? I saw that he had more in 
the drawer, a large pile. The sight of that paper 
there made me feel like stabbing him. I held out 
my hand to take the one he wanted to give me, 
but instead of taking his alms I jumped upon him, 
threw him down on the floor, and choked him until 
his eyes stuck out of fiis head ; then when he seemed 
ready to give up the ghost, I gagged him, bound 
him, undressed him, and then — ah, ah, ah! I have 
revenged you in a funny way!" 

Philippe-Auguste coughed, choking with laugh- 
ter, and on his ferocious and laughing lip the abbe 
again and again saw the quondam smile of the 
woman who made him lose his head. 

"And then?" he asked. 

"Then. Ah, ah, ah ! There was a big fire in the 
fireplace — it was in December, in the cold — that 
she died — mamma — a large coal fire — I take the 
poker — I make it red hot — and then — I burn him 
two crosses on the back — eight, ten, I don't know 
how many ; then I turn him over and make as 
many on his belly. Isn't that funny, eh, papa? 



234 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

That way one formerly branded the galley-slaves. 
He twisted about like an eel — but I had gagged him 
well, he could not cry out. Then I took the bank- 
notes — twelve of them — which with my own made 
thirteen — this did not bring me luck. And I es- 
caped, saying to the servants not to disturb Mon- 
sieur le Comte until dinner-time because he was 
sleeping. 

"I thought he would say nothing, for fear of 
the scandal, since he is a senator. But I was mis- 
taken. Four days later I was caught in a restau- 
rant in Paris. I got three years in prison, and 
that's the reason that I did not come to see you 
before." 

He was still drinking, his tongue so heavy that 
he could hardly speak. 

"Now, papa — papa cure — isn't it funny to have 
a cure for a papa ? Ah, ah, you must be good with 
bibi, because bibi is not the ordinary kind — and he 
has played a good — not so? — a good — joke on the 
old " 

The same anger which had formerly maddened 
the abbe before his treacherous mistress now filled 
him before this abominable man. 

He who in the name of God had pardoned so 
many infamous secrets whispered into his ear in the 
confessional, felt pitiless on his own account, and 
he did not now call upon this helpful and merciful 
God, for he understood that no protection from 
heaven or earth can save here below those who are 
like this man. 



MOUNT OLIVET 235 

All the ardor of his passionate heart and his 
violent temper, dormant in his episcopal office, 
awoke in a feeling of irresistible revolt against 
this wretch who was his son, against this resem- 
blance to him, and also against the mother, the 
unworthy mother who had conceived him like unto 
her, and against fate, which riveted this beggar 
to his father's foot, like the ball of a galley-slave. 

He saw everything at a flash, awakened by this 
shock out of his twenty-five years of pious sleep 
and tranquillity. 

Suddenly convinced that he must talk loud in 
order to awaken fear in this criminal, and to terrify 
him at the outset, he said to him, with teeth 
clenched in fury, and no longer thinking of his in- 
toxicated condition : 

*'Now that you have told me everything, listen 
to me. You will leave here tomorrow morning. 
You will live in a place that I will designate to you, 
and which you never will leave without my orders. 
I will pay you there a pension on which you can 
live, but a small one, as I have no money. If you 
disobey even once only, it is over, and you will 
have to do without me." 

Although overcome with the wine, Philippe-Au- 
guste understood the threat, and the criminal in 
him suddenly awoke. 

"Ah, papa, don't threaten me," he spluttered. 
"You are a cure — I've got you there — and you'll 
come round — as the other did " 



236 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The abbe jumped up, and in his muscles of old 
Hercules he felt an irresistible desire to take hold 
of this monster, to double him up like a wand, and 
show him that he must give way. 

"Ah, take care, take care! I'm not afraid of 
anyone," he cried, shaking the table and pushing 
it against him. 

The drunken fellow, losing his equilibrium, 
wavered in his chair. Feeling that he was about to 
fall, and that he was in the power of the priest, he 
reached out toward one of the knives on the table, 
with the gleam of the assassin in his eye. The 
Abbe Vilbois saw the movement, and he pushed 
the table so hard that his son toppled over on his 
back on the floor. The lamp upset and went out. 

For a second there was a tinkling of broken glass 
in the darkness, then a sound as of the crawling 
of a soft body over the floor ; then silence. 

When the lamp broke, the sudden darkness that 
fell over them was so unexpected and deep that 
they were stupefied as by a frightful event. The 
drunken fellow, crouching against the wall, did not 
move ; and the priest remained on his chair, plunged 
in the darkness which extinguished his anger. 
This somber veil cast over him arrested his pas- 
sion and stilled the fury of his soul ; and other 
ideas came to him, dark and gloomy as the ob- 
scurity. 

There was silence as of a closed tomb, where 
nothing seemed to live or breathe. No noise came 



MOUNT OLIVET 237 

in from the outside, no sound of a wagon in the 
distance, no barking of a dog, not even the slight 
breath of the wind outside or against the wall. 

This lasted a long time, perhaps an hour. Then 
suddenly the gong sounded, struck by a single, 
sharp, hard blow, which was followed by the noise 
of a fall and of a chair thrown down. 

Marguerite, who had been on the watch, came 
running in; but when she opened the door she 
started back, frightened at the impenetrable dark- 
ness. 

"Monsieur le cure! Monsieur le cure!" she 
called, trembling, with beating heart and hesitating 
voice. 

But no one answered, and nothing stirred. 

"Great God! great God!" she said, "what have 
they done? What has happened?" 

She did not dare to go in, nor to go back for a 
light, and she was seized with the mad desire to 
scream, to flee and save herself, though her legs 
trembled so that she was ready to fall. 

"Monsieur le cure! Monsieur le cure!" she re- 
peated, "it is me, Marguerite." 

Then, in spite of her fear, the instinctive desire 
came over her to save her master, and an access of 
bravery, such as turns women at times into hero- 
ines, filled her soul with terrified audacity, and run- 
ning to her kitchen she brought back her lamp. 

She stopped on the sill. She saw, first, the vaga- 
bond stretched out by the wall, who was sleeping 

Vol. 2—16 



238 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

or seemed to sleep; then the broken lamp; then, 
under the table, the two black feet and the black- 
stockinged legs of the Abbe Vilbois, who must have 
fallen on his back in hitting the gong. 

Shaking with fright and with trembling hands, 
she repeated, 

"My God! My God! what is this?" 

As she was cautiously advancing, she slipped on 
something sticky and nearly fell down. 

Then stooping down, she perceived on the red 
pavement a red liquid, flowing around her feet and 
rolling rapidly toward the door. She guessed that 
it was blood. 

Frightened out of her wits, she fled, throwing 
away her lamp, so as to see nothing more, and 
rushed out into the field, toward the village. She 
flew along, screaming, bumping against the trees, 
her eyes bent upon the distant lights. 

Her sharp voice rang through the night like the 
sinister cry of an owl, incessantly repeating: "The 
maoufatan — the maoufatan!" 

As she reached the first houses, men came out 
and gathered round her ; but she fought them with- 
out answering, for she had lost her head. 

They finally understood that something had hap- 
pened at the priest's house, and a posse armed 
themselves to run to his assistance. 

The little pink lodge, in the middle of the field 
of olives, had sunk invisible and black into the still, 
dark night. Since the gleam in its one lighted 



MOUNT OLIVET 239 

window had oeen extinguished like a closed eye, 
it was hidden in the shadow. 

Soon lights came running toward it, through the 
trees. Long yellow beams fell over the burned 
grass, and in the unsteady clarity the twisted trunks 
of the olive trees seemed like monsters, or serpents 
of the inferno interlaced and twisted. Suddenly 
something white and vague rose out of the obscur- 
ity, and then the low, square wall of the little 
house became pink in the light of the lanterns. 
Some peasants were carrying them, escorting two 
policemen, revolvers in hand, the country watch- 
man, the mayor, and Marguerite, almost fainting 
and supported by two men. 

The men hesitated a moment before the open 
door, then the brigadier, seizing a lantern, entered, 
followed by the others. 

The servant had spoken the truth. The blood 
now curdled, covered the flagging like a carpet. It 
had crept over to the vagabond, bathing one of his 
legs and one of his hands. 

Father and son were sleeping, one, with his 
throat cut, the eternal sleep, and the other the sleep 
of the drunkard. The two policemen seized the 
latter, and he was handcuffed before he was fairly 
av.'ake. He rubbed his eyes, stupefied and made 
brutish with the wine ; and when he saw the corpse 
of the priest, he looked terrified, as if not com- 
prehending anything. 

"Why didn't he escape?" said the mayor. 



240 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"He was too drunk," said the brigadier. 

And everybody was of the same opinion, for it 
did not occur to anyone that the Abbe Vilbois might 
have committed suicide. 



THE FLIGHT OF YEARS 

Two friends were nearing the end of their 
dinner. Through the cafe windows they 
could see the Boulevard, crowded with peo- 
ple. They could feel the gentle breezes that are 
wafted over Paris on warm summer evenings, 
which make you feel like going out somewhere, you 
care not where, under the trees, and make you 
dream of moonlit rivers, of fireflies, and of larks. 

One of the two, Henri Simon, heaved a deep 
sigh and said: 

"Ah! I am growing old. It's sad. Formerly, 
on evenings like this, I felt full of life. Now, 
I only feel regrets. Life is short !" 

He was about forty-five years old, very bald and 
growing stout. 

The other, Pierre Carnier, a trifle older, but thin 
and lively, answered : 

''Well, my boy, I have grown old without notic- 
ing it in the least. I have always been merry, 
healthy, vigorous, and all the rest. As one sees one- 
self in the mirror every day, one does not realize 
the work of age, for it is slow and regular, and it 

241 



242 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

modifies the countenance so gently that the changes 
are unnoticeable. It is for this reason alone that 
we do not die of sorrow after two or three years of 
excitement. For we cannot understand the altera- 
tions that time produces. To appreciate them one 
would have to remain six months without seeing 
one's own face — then, oh, what a shock! 

"And the women, my friend, how I pity the poor 
beings ! All their joy, all their power, all their life, 
lies in their beauty, which lasts ten years. As I 
said, I aged without noticing it; I thought myself 
practically a youth, when I was almost fifty. Not 
feeling the slightest infirmity, I went about, happy 
and peaceful. The revelation of my decline came 
to me in a simple and terrible manner, which over- 
whelmed me for almost six months — then I became 
resigned. 

"Like all men, I have often been in love, but 
most especially once. I met her at the seashore, at 
Etretat, about twelve years ago, shortly after the 
war. Nothing is prettier than this beach during the 
morning bathing-hour. It is small, shaped like a 
horseshoe, framed by high, white cliffs, which are 
pierced by strange holes called the 'Portes/ one 
stretching out into the ocean like the leg of a 
giant, the other short and dumpy. The women 
gather on the narrow strip of sand in this frame of 
high rocks, which they make into a gorgeous gar- 
den of beautiful gowns. The sun beats down on 
the shores, on the multicolored parasols, on the 



THE FLIGHT OF YEARS 243 

blue-green sea; and all is gay, delightful, smiling. 
You sit at the edge of the water and watch the 
bathers. The women come down, wrapped in long 
bathing-gowns, which they throw off daintily when 
they reach the foamy edge of the choppy waves; 
and they run into the water with a rapid little step, 
stopping from time to time for a delightful little 
thrill from the cold water, a short suffocation. 
Very few stand the test of the bath. There they 
can be judged, from the ankle to the throat. Espe- 
cially when they leave the water are the defects 
revealed, although water is a powerful aid to flabby 
skin. 

"The first time I saw this young woman in 
the water, I was delighted, entranced. She stood 
the test well. There are faces whose charms appeal 
to you at first glance and delight you instantly. 
You seem to have found the woman whom you 
were born to love. I had that feeling and that 
shock, 

"I was introduced, and was soon smitten worse 
than I ever had been before. i\Iy heart longed for 
her. It is a terrible yet delightful thing thus to be 
dominated by a young woman. It is almost tor- 
ture, and yet infinite delight. Her look, her smile, 
her hair fluttering in the wind, the little lines of 
her face, the slightest movement of her features, 
delighted me, upset me, entranced me. She had 
captured me body and soul, by her gestures, her 
manners, even by her clothes, which seemed to take 



244 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

on a peculiar charm as soon as she wore them. I 
grew tender at the sight of her veil on some piece 
of furniture, or her gloves thrown on a chair. 
Her gowns seemed to me inimitable. Nobody had 
a hat like hers. 

"She was married, but her husband came only 
on Saturday and left on Monday. I didn't con- 
cern myself about him, anyhow. I wasn't jealous 
of him, I don't know why; never did a creature 
seem to me to be of less importance in life, or at- 
tract my attention less than this man. 

"But she! How I loved her! How beautiful, 
graceful and young she was ! She was youth, ele- 
gance, freshness itself! Never before had I felt 
so strongly what a pretty, neat, distinguished, deli- 
cate, charming, graceful being woman is. Never 
before had I appreciated the seductive beauty in 
the curve of a cheek, the movement of a lip, the 
pinkness of an ear, the shape of that foolish 
organ called the nose. 

"This lasted three months ; then I left for Amer- 
ica, overwhelmed with sadness. But her memory 
remained in me, persistent, triumphant. From far 
away I was as much hers as I had been when she 
was near me. Years passed by, and I did not for- 
get her. The charming image of her person was 
ever before my eyes and in my heart. And my 
love remained true to her, a quiet tenderness still, 
something like the beloved memory of the most 
beautiful and most enchanting thing I had ever met. 



THE FLIGHT OF YEARS 245 

"Twelve years are not much in a lifetime ! One 
does not feel them slipping by. The years follow 
each other gently and quickly, slowly yet rapidly, 
each one is long and yet soon over! They add up 
so rapidly, they leave so few traces behind them, 
they disappear so completely, that, when one turns 
around to look back over bygone years, one sees 
nothing and yet does not understand how he hap- 
pens to be so old. It seemed to me that hardly 
more than a few months separated me from that 
charming season on the sands of Etretat. 

"Last spring, I was going to Maisons-Laffitte 
for dinner with some friends. 

"Just as the train was leaving, a big, fat lady, 
escorted by four little girls, got into my car. I 
hardly looked at this mother hen, very big, very 
round, with a face as full as the moon and framed 
in an enormous, beribboned hat. 

"She was panting, out of breath from having 
been forced to walk rapidly. The children began 
to chatter. I unfolded my paper and began to read. 

"We had just passed Asnieres, when my neigh- 
bor suddenly turned to me and said : 

" 'Excuse me, sir, but are you not Monsieur 
Gamier?* 

" 'Yes, Madame.' 

"Then she began to laugh, the pleased laugh of 
a good woman, and yet it was sad. 

" 'You do not appear to recognize me.' 

'•I hesitated. It seemed to me that I had seen 



246 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

that face somewhere ; but where ? when ? I an- 
swered : 

'' 'Yes — and no. I certainly know you, and yet 
I cannot recall your name.' 

"She blushed a little: 

" 'Madame Julie Lefevre.' 

"Never had I received such a shock. In a sec- 
ond it seemed to me as if all were over with 
me. I felt that a veil had been torn from my eyes, 
and that I was about to make a horrible and heart- 
rending discovery. 

"So that was she! That big, fat, common 
woman, she! She had hatched these four girls 
since I had last seen her. And these little beings 
surprised me as much as their mother. They came 
from her; they were big, and already had a place 
in life. Whereas she no longer counted, she, that 
marvel of dainty and charming gracefulness. It 
seemed to me that I had seen her but yesterday, 
and now I found her so changed. Was it possi- 
ble? A poignant grief seized my heart, and also 
a revolt against nature herself, an unreasoning in- 
dignation against this brutal, infamous act of de- 
struction. 

"I looked at her, bewildered. Then I took her 
hand in mine, and tears came to my eyes. I wept 
for her lost youth. For I did not know this fat 
lady. 

"She also was excited, and stammered: 

" 'I am greatly changed, am I not? What can 



J 



THE FLIGHT OF YEARS 247 

you expect? — everything has its time! You see, I 
have become a mother, nothing but a good mother. 
Farewell to the rest, that is over. Oh! I never 
expected you to recognize me if we were to meet. 
You too have changed. It took me quite a while to 
be sure that I was not mistaken. Your hair is all 
white. Just think ! Twelve years ago ! Twelve 
years ! My oldest girl is already ten.' " 

"I looked at the child. And I recognized in her 
something of her mother's old charm, but some- 
thing as yet unformed, something that promised 
for the future. And life seemed to me as swift as 
a passing train. 

"We had reached Maisons-Laffitte. I kissed my 
old friend's hand. I had found nothing but the 
most commonplace things to say to her. I was 
too much upset to talk. 

"At night, alone, at home, I stood in front of 
the mirror for a long time, a very long time. And 
I remembered what I had been by seeing in my 
mind's eye my brown moustache, my black hair, 
and the youthful expression of my face. Now I 
was old. Farewell!" 



THE OLD MAID 

COMTE EUSTACHE d'ETCHEGORRY'S 
lonely country house had the appearance of 
a poor man's home, where the family do not 
have a full meal every day and where the bottles 
contain water oftener than wine, and where no 
candles are lighted until it grows perfectly dark. 

It was an old, timeworn house; the walls were 
crumbling to pieces, the grated iron gates were 
rusty, the holes in the broken windows had been 
stopped with newspapers, but the ancestral por- 
traits hanging on the walls showed that it was no 
tiller of the soil, no miserable laborer whose 
strength had gradually failed and left his back 
bent, who lived there. Tall, knotty elm-trees shel- 
tered it, as if they had been a great green screen, 
and a large garden, full of wild rose-bushes and 
straggling plants, as well as sickly-looking vege- 
tables, which came half withered from the sandy 
soil, extended down to the bank of the river. 

From the house one could hear the monotonous 
sound of the water, which first rushed yellow and 
impetuous toward the sea, and then seemed driven 

248 



THE OLD MAID 249 

back by some invisible force toward the town, 
which could be seen in the distance, with its pointed 
spires, its ramparts, its ships at anchor by the side 
of the quay, and its citadel built on the top of a hill. 

Often a strong whiff of the sea blew in, mingled 
with the resinous smell of pine logs and of the 
large nets, with great pieces of seaweed clinging to 
them, that were drying in the sun. 

Monsieur d'Etchegorry did not like the coun- 
try ; he was of a sociable rather than a solitary na- 
ture, for he never walked alone, but kept step with 
the retired officers who lived there, and frequently 
played game after game of piquet at the cafe, when 
he was in town; so why did he bury himself in such 
a lonely place, by the side of a dusty road at Bou- 
cau, a village close to the town, where on Sundays 
the soldiers took oft' their tunics and sat in their 
shirt-sleeves in the public houses, drank the thin 
wine of the country, and flirted with the girls? 

What secret reasons had he for selling the man- 
sion he had owned at Bayonne, close to the bishop's 
palace, and condenming his daughter, a girl of 
nineteen, to such a dull, listless, solitary life, count- 
ing the minutes far from everybody, as if she had 
been a nun? No one knew, but most persons 
said that he had lost vast sums in gambling, and 
had wasted his fortune and ruined his credit in 
doubtful speculations. They wondered whether he 
still regretted the tender, sweet woman he had lost, 
whose spark of life had died out one evening, after 



250 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

years of suffering, like a church lamp whose oil 
has been consumed to the last drop. Was he seek- 
ing for perfect oblivion, for that soothing repose in 
nature in which a man becomes calmed and which 
• envelops him like a moist, warm cloth ? How could 
he be satisfied with such an existence, with the bad 
cooking and the careless, untidy ways of a char- 
woman, and with the shabby clothes, stained by 
long use, that he always wore ? 

His numerous relatives had all been very anxious 
about it at first, and had tried to cure him of his 
apparent hypochondria, and to persuade him to 
occupy himself with something, but as he was obsti- 
nate, avoided them, rejected their kindly offers 
with arrogance and self-sufficiency, even his 
brothers had abandoned him, and almost renounced 
him. All their affection had been transferred to 
the poor child who shared his solitude, and who 
endured all that misery with the resignation of a 
saint. Thanks to them, she had a few gleams of 
pleasure in her exile, and was not dressed like a 
beggar. She received invitations, and appeared 
here and there at some ball, concert, or tennis 
party, and the girl was extremely grateful for it 
all, although she would have much preferred that 
nobody should have held out a helping hand to 
her, but have left her to her dull life, without any 
day-dreams or homesickness, so that she might 
grow used to her lot, and day by day lose all that 
remained to her of her pride of race and of her 
youth. 



THE OLD MAID 251 

With her proud and sensitive nature, she felt 
that she was not treated exactly as others were in 
society, that people showed her either too much 
pity or too much indifference; that they knew all 
about her private life of undeserved poverty, and 
that in the folds of her muslin gown they could 
smell the mustiness of her home. If she was ani- 
mated or buoyed up with secret hopes in her heart, 
if there was a smile on her lips and her eyes were 
bright when she went out at the gate and the horses 
carried her off to town at a rapid trot, she was 
all the more sad and tearful when she returned 
home, and she would shut herself up in her room 
and find fault with her fate, declaring to herself 
that she would imitate her father, show relatives 
and friends politely out, with a passive and resigned 
gesture, and make herself so disagreeable and em- 
barrassing that they would grow tired of her in the 
end, leave long intervals between their visits, and 
finally would not come to see her at all, but would 
turn away from her, as if from a hospital where 
incurable patients lay dying. 

Nevertheless, the older the Count grew the more 
the supplies in the small country house diminished 
and the more painful and harder existence became. 
If a bit of bread was left uneaten on the table, 
if an unexpected dish was served, if Marie put a 
bow of ribbon in her hair, he would heap violent, 
spiteful reproaches on her, torrents of rage which 
defile the mouth, and violent threats like those of 



252 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

a madman who is tormented by some fixed idea. 
Monsieur d'Etchegorry had dismissed the maid 
and engaged a charwoman, whom he intended to 
pay by small sums on account, and he used to go to 
market with a basket on his arm. 

He locked up every scrap of food, would count 
the lumps of sugar and charcoal, and bolted him- 
self all day long in a room larger than the rest, 
which for a long time had been a drawing-room. 
At times he would be rather more gentle, as if he 
were troubled by vague thoughts, and used to say to 
his daughter, in an agonized voice and trembling 
all over: "You never will ask me for any accounts, 
will you? You never will demand your mother's 
fortune?" 

She always gave him the required promise, did 
not worry him with any questions, nor utter any 
complaints, but thinking of her cousins, who would 
.have good dowries, who were growing up happily 
and peacefully amid careful and affectionate sur- 
roundings and beautiful old furniture, who were 
certain to be loved and married some day, she asked 
herself why fate was so cruel to some and so kind 
to others, and what she had done to deserve such a 
destiny. 

Marie-des-Anges d'Etchegorry, without being ab- 
solutely pretty, possessed all the charm of her age, 
and everybody liked her. She was tall and slim 
like a lily, with beautiful, fine, soft fair hair, eyes 
of a dark, undecided color, which reminded one of 



THE OLD MAID 253 

those springs in the depths of forests in which 
a ray of the sun is but rarely reflected — mirrors 
which changed now to violet, then to the color of 
leaves, but which were most frequently of a velvety 
blackness — and her whole being exhaled a freshness 
of childhood, and something that could not be 
described, but which was pleasant and wholesome. 

She lived on through a long course of years, 
growing old, faithful to some unknown man who 
might have given her his name, remaining honor- 
able, having resisted temptations and snares, and 
worthy of the motto that used to be engraved 
on the tombs of Roman matrons before the Caesars : 
"She spun wool and stayed at home." 

When she was just twenty-one Marie-des-Anges 
fell in love, and her beautiful, dark, restless eyes 
for the first time were lighted with a look of dreamy 
happiness. For some one seemed to have noticed 
her; he waltzed with her more frequently than 
with the other girls, spoke to her in a low voice, 
lingered near her, and discomposed her so much 
that she blushed deeply as soon as she heard the 
sound of his voice. 

His name was Andre de Gedre; he had just re- 
turned from Senegal, where, after several months 
of daily fighting in the desert, he had won his sub- 
lieutenant's epaulets. 

With his thin, sunburned face, looking awkward 
in his tight coat, in which his broad shoulders could 
not expand comfortably, and in which his arms, 

Vol. 2—17 



254 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

which had formerly been used to swinging the 
sword, were cramped in their tight sleeves, he 
looked like one of those pirates of former days, who 
used to scour the seas, pillaging, killing, hanging 
their prisoners to the yardarms, who were ready to 
engage a whole fleet, and who returned to port 
laden with booty, and occasionally with waifs and 
strays picked up at sea. 

He belonged to a race of buccaneers or of heroes, 
according to the breeze which swelled his sails and 
carried him North or South. Over head and ears 
in debt, reduced to gambling at casinos, mortgaging 
uncertain legacies, and the few acres of land that 
he still owned at much less than their value, he 
nevertheless managed to cut a good figure in his 
hand-to-mouth existence. He never despaired, 
never showed the blows that he had received, and 
waited for the final crash in a state of blissful in- 
activity, while he sought for renewed strength and 
philosophy in the caresses of women. 

Marie-des-Anges seemed to him to be a toy whicn 
he could do with as he liked. She had the flavor 
of unripe fruit; left to herself, and sentimental as 
she was, she would ofifer only a very brief resist- 
ance to his attacks, and would soon yield to his will, 
and when he was tired of her and threw her off, she 
would bow to the inevitable and would not worry 
him with violent scenes nor stand in his way, with 
threats on her lips. So he was kind and used 
to flatter her, and by degrees enveloped her in 



THE OLD MAID 255 

the meshes of a net which continually hemmed her 
in closer and closer. He gained entire possession 
of her heart and confidence, and, without express- 
ing any wish or making any promises, he managed 
so to establish his influence over her that she did 
nothing but what he wished. 

Long before Monsieur de Gedre had addressed 
any passionate words to her, or any avowal which 
immediately introduces warmth and danger into a 
flirtation, Marie-des-Anges had betrayed her love 
with the candor of a little girl who does not think 
she is doing any wrong and cannot hide what she 
thinks, what she is dreaming about, or the tender- 
ness that lies hidden at the bottom of her heart, 
and she no longer felt that horror of life which had 
formerly tortured her. She no longer felt herself 
alone as before — so alone, so lost, even among 
her own people, that she had become indifferent to 
everything. 

It was pleasant and soothing to be in love and 
to think that she loved, to have a secret under- 
standing with another heart, to imagine that he was 
thinking of her at the same time that she was 
thinking of him, to shelter herself timidly under 
his protection, to feel more unhappy every time she 
left him, and to feel greater happiness every time 
they met. 

She wrote him long letters which she did not 
dare to send him when they were written, for she 
was timid and feared that he would smile at them, 



256 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

and she sang the whole day long like a lark' in the 
sunlight, so that Monsieur d'Etchegorry hardly 
recognized her. 

Soon they made appointments in some secluded 
spot, meeting for a few minutes in the aisles of 
the cathedral and behind the ramparts or on the 
promenade of the Allees-Marines, which was al- 
ways dark on account of the dense foliage. 

At last, one evening in June, when the sky 
was so studded with stars that it might have been 
taken for a triumphal route of some sovereign, 
strewn with precious stones and rare flowers, Mon- 
sieur de Gedre entered the large neglected garden. 

Marie-des-Anges was waiting for him in a som- 
ber walk, with elms on either side, listening for 
the least noise, looking at the closed windows of 
the house, and nearly fainting as much from fear 
as from happiness. They spoke in a low voice. 
She was close to him, and he must have heard the 
beating of her heart into which he had cast the first 
seeds of love, and he put his arms round her and 
clasped her gently, as if she had been some little 
bird that he w^as afraid of hurting, but which he 
did not wish to allow to escape. 

She no longer knew what she was doing, but was 
in a state of entire, intense, supreme happiness. She 
was cold and hot by turns and leaned her head in- 
stinctively but lightly against Andre's shoulder. 
He kissed her hair, touched her forehead with 
his lips, and at last pressed them to her own. The 



THE OLD MAID 257 

girl remained inert and motionless, her eyes full of 
tears. 

He came to see her nearly every evening for two 
months. She had not the courage to repel him and 
to speak to him seriously of the future, and could 
not understand why he had not yet asked her father 
for her hand, and had not fulfilled his former prom- 
ises, until one Sunday, as she was coming from 
high mass, walking on before her cousins, Marie- 
des-Anges heard the following words from a group 
in which Andre was standing, and he was the 
speaker: "Oh! no," he said, "you are altogether 
mistaken; I never should do anything so foolish. 
A man does not marry a girl without a penny ; 
he only amuses himself." 

The unhappy girl mastered her feelings, went 
down the steps of the porch quite steadily, but feel- 
ing crushed as if by the news of some terrible 
disaster, and joined the servant who was waiting 
to accompany her back to Boucau. The effect of 
what she had heard caused her a serious illness, 
and for some time she hovered between life and 
death, consumed and wasted by a violent fever; 
and when after a fortnight's suffering she became 
convalescent, and looked at herself in the glass, she 
recoiled, as if she were face-to-face with an appari- 
tion, for nothing was left of her former beauty. 

Her eyes were dull, her cheeks pale and hollow, 
and there were white streaks in her silky, light hair. 
Why had she not died in her illness ? Why had des- 



258 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

tiny reserved her for such a trial, and only aggra- 
vated her unhappy lot, that of disappointed hopes? 
But when that rebellious feeling was gone she ac- 
cepted her cross, fell into a condition of ardent 
devotion and became crystallized as in the torpor 
of an old woman, trying with all her might to rid 
her memory of any recollections she might have 
cherished in it, and to put a thick black veil between 
herself and the past. 

She never walked in the garden now and never 
went to Bayonne, and she would have liked to choke 
herself and to beat herself, when, in spite of her 
efforts and of her will, she remembered her lost 
happiness, and when some sensual feeling and a 
longing for past pleasures awoke in her mind. 

This condition lasted four years and altogether 
destroyed her good looks. She now had the figure 
and the appearance of an old maid, when her father 
suddenly died, just as he was about to sit down 
to dinner. When the lawyer, who was summoned 
immediately, had ransacked the cupboards and 
drawers, he discovered a mass of securities, of 
banknotes, and of gold, which Comte d'Etchegorry, 
who was a slave to avarice, had amassed eagerly 
and hidden away ; and it was found that Mademoi- 
selle Marie-des-Anges, who was his sole heiress, 
possessed an income of fifty thousand francs. 

She received the news without any emotion, for 
of what use was such a fortune to her now, and 
what should she do with it? Her eyes, alas! had 



THE OLD MAID 259 

been too much opened by all the tears that had 
fallen from them for her to delude herself with 
visionary hopes, and her heart had been too cruelly 
wounded to warm itself by illusions. She was over- 
come by melancholy when she thought that in fu- 
ture she would be coveted, she who had been kept 
at arm's length, as if she had been a leper ; that men 
would come after her money with odious impa- 
tience ; that now that she was faded and ugly, tired 
of everything and everybody, she would most cer- 
tainly have plenty of suitors to refuse, and that, 
perhaps, he would come back to her, attracted by 
that amount of money, like a hawk hovering over 
its prey, that he would try to rekindle the dead em- 
bers, to revise some spark in them, and to obtain 
pardon for his cowardice. 

Oh, with what bitter pleasure she could have 
thrown those millions into the road to the ragged 
beggars, or scattered them about like manna to all 
who were suffering and dying of hunger, and who 
had neither roof nor hearth ! Naturally she soon 
became the target at which every one aimed, the 
goal for which all those who had formerly dis- 
dained her most now eagerly tried. 

It was not long before Monsieur de Gedre was 
in the ranks of her suitors, as she had foreseen, and 
caused her that las't heartburning of seeing him 
humble, kneeling at her feet, acting a comedy, try- 
ing every means to overcome her resistance, and 
to regain possession of that heart which was closed 



260 GUY DE MAUPASSANT . 

against him after having been entirely his, in all its 
adorable virginity. 

Marie-des-Anges had loved him so deeply that 
his letters, in which he recalled the past and stirred 
up all the recollections of their love, their kisses, 
and their dreams, softened her in spite of herself, 
and came across her profound, incurable sadness 
like a false light, the reflection of a bonfire, which 
from a distance illuminates' a prison cell for a mo- 
ment. 

He said he was poor himself, and had not wished 
to drag her into his life of privation and shifts, 
and she thought to herself that perhaps he had been 
right ; and thus sensibly, like a mother or an elder 
sister, who has become indulgent and wishes to 
close her eyes and ears against everything, to 
forgive again, to forgive always, she excused him 
and tried to remember nothing but those months of 
tenderness and ecstasy, those mon'ths of happi- 
ness, and that he had been the first, the only man 
who, in the course of her unhappy, wasted life, had 
given her a moment's contentment, had caused her 
to dream, and had made her happy, youthful, and 
loving. 

He had shown himself kind to her, and shefwould 
be so a hundredfold toward him ; and so she be- 
came happy again, saying to herself that she would 
be his benefactress, that even with his hard heart 
he could not without some feelings of gratitude and 
emotion accept this sacrifice from a woman, who, 



THE OLD MAID 261 

like so many others, might have returned him evil 
for evil, but who preferred to be kind and con- 
siderate, after being in love with him. And that 
resolution transfigured her, restored to her, tem- 
porarily, something of her youth, which had so 
soon fled away, and, poor, heroic saint among all 
the saints, she took refuge in a Carmelite convent, 
so as to escape from this returning temptation, 
and to bequea'th everything of which she could 
lawfully dispose to Monsieur de Gedre. 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 

I 

THE men went there every night about eleven 
o'clock, as they would go to a club. There 
were six or eight of them; always the same 
ones, not fast men, but respectable tradesmen, and 
young men under government or some other employ, 
and they would drink Chartreuse, and laugh with 
the girls, or talk seriously with Madame Tellier, 
whom everybody respected, and then they would go 
home at twelve o'clock ! The younger men would 
sometimes stay later. 

The small, comfortable house was painted yellow 
and stood at the corner of a street behind St. 
Etienne's Church, and from the windows one could 
see the docks thronged with ships being unloaded, 
the great salt marsh, and, rising beyond it, the Vir- 
gin's Hill with its old gray chapel. 

Madame Tellier, who came of a respectable fam- 
ily of peasant proprietors in the Department of the 
Eure, had taken up her business just as she would 
have become a milliner or a dressmaker. The pre- 

262 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 263 

judice that is so violent and so deeply rooted in 
large towns does not exist in the country places in 
Normandy. The peasant says : 

"It is a profitable business," and he sends his 
daughter to keep an establishment of this character 
as he would send her to keep a girls' school. 

Madame had inherited the house from an old 
uncle, to whom it had belonged. Monsieur and 
Madame Tellier, who had formerly been innkeepers 
near Yvetot, had immediately sold their house, as 
they thought that the business at Fecamp was more 
profitable, and they arrived one fine morning to as- 
sume the direction of the enterprise, which was 
declining on account of the absence of the proprie- 
tors, who were good people enough in their way, 
and they soon made themselves liked by their staff 
and their neighbors. 

Monsieur Tellier died of apoplexy two years 
later, for as the new place kept him in idleness and 
without any exercise, he had grown excessively 
stout, and his health had suffered. Since Madame 
had been a widow, all the frequenters of the es- 
tablishment made much of her ; but people said that 
personally she was quite virtuous, and even the 
girls in the house could not discover anything 
against her. She was tall, stout and affable, and 
her complexion, which had become pale in the 
dimness of her house, the shutters of which were 
rarely opened, shone as if it had been varnished. 
She wore a fringe of false, curled hair, which gave 



264 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

her a juvenile look, contrasting strikingly with 
the ripeness of her figure. She was always smiling 
and cheerful, and was fond of a joke, but there 
was a shade of reserve about her, which her occu- 
pation had not made her lose entirely. Coarse 
words shocked her, and when any ill-bred young 
fellow called her establishment a bad name, she 
was angry and disgusted. In a word, she had a 
refined mind, and although she treated her women 
as friends, yet she often used to say that she and 
they were not made of the same stuff. 

Sometimes, during the week, she would hire a 
carriage and take some of her girls into the country, 
where they used to enjoy themselves on the grass 
by the side of the little river. They were like 
girls let out from school, and would run races 
and play childish games. They had a cold dinner 
on the grass, and drank cider, and went home at 
night with a delicious feeling of fatigue, and in the 
carriage they kissed Madame Tellier as their kind 
mother, who was full of goodness and complaisance. 

The house had two entrances. At the corner 
there was a sort of tap-room, which sailors and the 
lower class frequented at night, and she had two 
girls whose special duty it was to wait on them 
with the assistance of Frederic, a short, fair-haired, 
beardless fellow, as strong as a horse. They set 
the half bottles of wine and the jugs of beer on the 
shaky tables before the customers, and then urged 
the men to drink. 



THE TELLIRR HOUSE 265 

The three other girls — there were only five of 
them — formed a kind of aristocracy, and they re- 
mained with the company on the first floor, unless 
they were needed downstairs and if nobody was 
on the first floor. The salon of Jupiter, where the 
tradesmen used to meet, was papered in blue, and 
embellished with a large drawing representing Leda 
and the swan. The room was reached by a winding 
staircase, through a narrow door opening on the 
street, and above this door was a lantern enclosed 
in wire, such as one still sees in some towns, at the 
foot of the shrine of a saint, burning all night 
long. 

The house, which was old and damp, smelled 
slightly mouldy. At times there was an odor of 
eau de Cologne in the passages, or sometimes from 
a half-open door downstairs the noisy mirth of the 
common men sitting and drinking rose to the first 
floor, much to the disgust of the gentlemen who 
were there. Madame Tellier, who was on friendly 
terms with her customers, did not leave the room, 
and took much interest in what was going on in 
the town, and they regularly told her all the news. 
Her serious conversation was a change from the 
ceaseless chatter of the three women ; it was a rest 
from the shady jokes of those stout men who 
every evening indulged in the commonplace de- 
bauchery of drinking a glass of liquor in company 
with common women. 

The names of the girls on the first floor were 



266 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

Fernande, Raphaele, and Rosa, the Jade. As the 
staff was limited, Madame had tried to have each 
member of it a pattern, an epitome of the feminine 
type, so that every visitor might find as nearly as 
possible the realization of his ideal, Fernande rep- 
resented the handsome blonde; she was very tall, 
rather stout, and lazy; a country girl, who could 
not get rid of her freckles, and whose short, light, 
tow-colored hair, like combed-out hemp, barely 
covered her head. 

Raphaele, who came from Marseilles, played the 
indispensable part of the handsome Jewess, and 
was slender, with high cheekbones, which were 
tinted with rouge, and black hair, covered with po- 
matum, which curled on her forehead. Her eyes 
would have been handsome if the right one had not 
had a flaw in it. Her Roman nose came down over 
a square jaw, where two false upper teeth con- 
trasted strangely with the dark color of the rest. 

Rosa was a little ball of fat, nearly all body, with 
very short legs, and from morning till night she 
sang songs, which were alternately risque or senti- 
mental, in a harsh voice; told silly, endless tales, 
and only stopped talking in order to eat, and left 
off eating in order to talk; she never was still, 
and was active as a squirrel, in spite of her fat 
and her short legs; her laugh, which was a series 
of shrill cries, resounded here and there ceaselessly, 
in a bedroom, in the loft, in the cafe, everywhere, 
and all about nothing. 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 267 

The two women on the ground floor, Louise, who 
was nicknamed La Cocotte, and Flora, whom they 
called Balangoise, because she limped a little, (the 
former always dressed as the Goddess of Liberty, 
with a tri-colored sash, and the other as a Spanish 
woman, with a string of copper coins in her car- 
roty hair, which jingled at every uneven step), 
looked like cooks dressed up for the carnival. They 
were like all other women of the lower orders, 
neither uglier nor prettier than they usually are. 
They looked like servants at an inn, and were 
called "the two pumps." 

A jealous peace, which was very rarely disturbed, 
reigned among these five women, thanks to Madame 
Tellier's conciliatory wisdom, and to her constant 
good humor; and the establishment, which was the 
only one of the kind in the little town, was very 
much frequented. Madame Tellier had succeeded 
in giving it such a respectable appearance, she was 
so amiable and obliging to everybody, her good 
heart was so well known, that she was treated with 
a certain amount of consideration. The regular 
customers spent money on her, and were delighted 
when she was especially friendly toward them, and 
when they met during the day, they would say: 
"Until this evening, you know where," just as men 
say: "At the club, after dinner." In a word Ma- 
dame Tellier's house was somewhere to go, and 
the men rarely missed their nightly meetings there. 

One evening toward the end of May, the first 



I 



268 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

arrival, Monsieur Poulin, who was a timber mer- 
chant, and had been Mayor, found the door shut. 
The lantern behind the grating was not lighted; 
there was not a sound in the house; everything 
seemed dead. He knocked, gently at first, then 
more loudly, but nobody answered. Then he went 
slowly up the street, and when he reached the mar- 
ketplace he met Monsieur Duvert, the gunmaker, 
who was going to the same place, so they went 
back together, but did not meet with any bet- 
ter success. But suddenly they heard a loud noise, 
close to them, and on going round the house, they 
saw a number of English and French sailors, who 
were hammering with their fists at the closed shut- 
ters of the taproom. 

The two tradesmen immediately made their es- 
cape, but a low "Pst!" stopped them; it was Mon- 
sieur Tournevau, the fish-curer, who had recog- 
nized them and was trying to attract their atten- 
tion. They told him what had happened, and he 
was all the more annoyed, as he was a married man 
and father of a family, and only went there on Sat- 
urdays. That was his regular evening off, and now 
he should be deprived of this dissipation for the 
whole week ! 

The three men went together, as far as the quay 
and on the way they met young Monsieur Philippe, 
the banker's son, who frequented the place regu- 
larly, and Monsieur Pinipesse, the collector ; and 
they all returned to the Rue aux Juifs together, to 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 269 

make a last attempt. But the exasperated sailors 
were besieging the house, throwing stones at the 
shutters and shouting; and the five first-floor cus- 
tomers went away as quickly as possible, and 
strolled aimlessly about the streets. 

After a time they met Monsieur Dupuis, the in- 
surance agent, and then Monsieur Vasse, the Judge 
of the Tribunal of Commerce, and they all took 
a long walk, going first to the pier where they sat 
down in a row on the granite parapet and watched 
the rising tide, and when the promenaders had sat 
there for some time. Monsieur Tourneveau said : 

*'This is not very amusing!" 

"Decidedly not," Monsieur Pinipesse replied, and 
they resumed their walk. 

After going through the street alongside the hill, 
they returned over the wooden bridge which crosses 
the Retenue, passed close to the railway, and came 
out again into the marketplace, when suddenly a 
dispute arose between Monsieur Pinipesse, the col- 
lector, and Monsieur Tourneveau, about an edible 
mushroom which one of them declared he had found 
in the neighborhood. 

As they were out of temper already from having 
nothing to do, they would probably have come to 
blows had not the others interfered. Monsieur 
Pinipesse went off furious, and soon another alter- 
cation arose between the ex-Mayor, Monsieur Pou- 
lin, and Monsieur Dupuis, the insurance agent, on 
the subject of the tax collector's salary and the 

Vol. 2—18 



i 



270 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

profits he might make. Insuhing remarks were 
freely passing between them, when a torrent of 
formidable cries was heard, and the body of sail- 
ors, who were tired of waiting so long outside a 
closed house, came in to the square. They were 
walking arm in arm, two and two, forming a long 
procession, and they were shouting furiously. The 
townsmen hid themselves in a doorway, and the 
yelling crew disappeared in the direction of the ab- 
bey. For a long time they still heard the noise, 
which diminished like a storm in the distance, and 
then silence was restored. Monsieur Poulin and 
Monsieur Dupuis, who were angry with each other, 
went in different directions, without wishing each 
other good-night. 

The other four set off again, and instinctively 
went in the direction of Madame Tellier's establish- 
ment, which was still closed, silent, impenetrable. 
A quiet but obstinate drunken man was knocking 
at the door of the lower room ; then he stopped and 
called Frederic, in a low voice, but finding that he 
got no answer, he sat down on the doorstep, and 
waited the course of events. 

The others were about to retire, when the noisy 
band of sailors reappeared at the end of the street. 
The French sailors were shouting the Marseillaise, 
and the Englishmen Rule Britannia. There was a 
general lurching against the wall, and then the 
drunken fellows went on their way toward the 
quay, where a fight broke out between the two 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 271 

nations, in the course of which an Englishman had 
his arm broken and a Frenchman his nose spHt. 

The drunken man who had waited outside the 
door was waihng by that time, as drunken men and 
children wail when they are vexed, and the others 
went away. By degrees, calm was restored in the 
noisy town ; here and there, at moments, the distant 
sound of voices could be heard, and then died away 
in the distance. 

One man only was still wandering about, Mon- 
sieur Tourevau, the fish-curer, who was annoyed 
at having to wait until the following Saturday, and 
he hoped something would turn up, he did not know 
what ; but he was exasperated at the police for thus 
allowing an establishment of so much public utility, 
W'hich they had under their control, to be closed. 

He went back to it and examined the walls, try- 
ing to find out some reason, and on the shutter he 
saw a notice stuck up. He struck a wax match and 
read the following, in a large, uneven hand: 
"Closed because of the Confirmation." 

Then he went away, as he saw it was useless to 
remain, and left the drunken man lying on the pave- 
ment fast asleep, outside that inhospitable door. 

The next day all the regular customers, one after 
the other, found some reason for going through the 
street, with a bundle of papers under their arm to 
keep them in countenance, and with a furtive glance 
they all read that mysterious notice : 

"Closed because of the Confirmation.'* 



272 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

II 

Madame Tellier had a brother, who was a car- 
penter in their native place, Virville, in the Depart- 
ment of the Eure. When she still kept the inn at 
Yvetat, she had been godmother to that brother's 
daughter, who had received the name of Constance 
Rivet; she herself having been a Rivit. The car- 
penter, who knew that his sister was in good cir- 
cumstances, did not lose sight of her, although they 
did not meet often, for both were kept at home by 
their occupations, and lived a long way from each 
other. But as the girl was twelve years old, and 
about to be confirmed, he took that opportunity to 
write to his sister, asking her to come and be 
present at the ceremony. Their old parents were 
dead, and as she could not well refuse her god- 
daughter she accepted the invitation. Her brother, 
whose name was Joseph, hoped that by dint of 
showing his sister much attention, she might be 
induced to make her will in the girl's favor, as rhe 
had no children of her own. 

This sister's occupation did not trouble his 
scruples in the least, and, besides, nobody knew 
anything about it at Virville. When they spoke of 
her, they only said: "Madame Tellier is living at 
Fecamp," which might mean that she was living on 
her own private income. It was quite twenty 
leagues from Fecamp to Virville, and for a peasant, 
twenty leagues on land is as long a journey as 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 273 

crossing the ocean would be to city dwellers. The 
people at Virville never had been further than 
Rouen, and nothing attracted the citizens of Fe- 
camp to a village of five hundred houses in the 
middle of a plain, and situated in another depart- 
ment ; at any rate, nothing was known about her 
business. 

But the Confirmation-day was coming on, and 
Madame Tellier was in great embarrassment. She 
had no substitute, and did not at all wish to leave 
her house, even for a day; for all the rivalries 
among the girls upstairs and those downstairs would 
infallibly break out in some trouble. No doubt 
Frederic would get drunk, and when he was in that 
state he would knock anybody down for a mere 
word. At last, however, she made up her mind to 
take them all with her, with the exception of the 
man, to whom she gave a holiday until the*next day 
but one. 

When she asked her brother whether they might 
come, he made no objection, but undertook to lodge 
them all for a night; so on Saturday morning the 
eight-o'clock express carried oflf Madame Tellier 
and her companions in a second-class carriage. As 
far as Beuzeville they were alone, and chattered 
like magpies, but at that station a couple got in. 
The man, an old peasant, dressed in a blue blouse 
with a turned-down collar, wide sleeves tight at the 
wrist, ornamented with white embroidery, wearing 
an old high hat with long nap, held an enormous 



274 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

green umbrella in one hand, and a large basket 
in the other, from which the heads of three fright- 
ened ducks protruded. The woman, who sat up 
stiffly in her rustic finery, had a face like a hen, 
with a nose that was as pointed as a bill. She 
sat down opposite her husband and did not stir, as 
she was startled at finding herself in such fine com- 
pany. 

There was certainly an array of striking colors 
in the carriage. Madame Tellier was dressed in 
blue silk from head to foot, and wore a dazzling 
red imitation French cashmere shawl. Fernande 
was panting in a Scotch plaid dress, of which her 
companions had laced the bodice as tight as they 
could, forcing up her full bust, which was contin- 
ually heaving up and down. Raphaele, with a bon- 
net covered with feathers, so that it looked like a 
birds' nest, wore a lilac dress with gold spots on it, 
and there was something Oriental about it that 
suited her Jewish face. Rosa wore a pink petticoat 
with large flounces, and looked like a very fat child, 
an obese dwarf; while the two Pumps looked as if 
they had cut their gowns out of old flowered cur- 
tains dating from the Restoration. 

As soon as they were no longer alone in the com- 
partment, the ladies put on prim looks, and began 
to talk of subjects that might give others a high 
opinion of them. But at Bolbeck a gentleman with 
a blond beard, a gold chain, and wearing two or 
three rings, got in, and put several parcels wrapped 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 275 

in oilcloth on the rack over his head. He looked 
inclined for a joke, and seemed a good-hearted fel- 
low. 

''Are you ladies changing your quarters?" he 
said, and that question embarrassed them all con- 
siderably. Madame Tellier, however, quickly re- 
gained her composure, and said sharply, to avenge 
the honor of her staff: 

"I think you might try to be polite !" 

He excused himself, and said: ''I beg your par- 
don, I should have said your nunnery." 

She could not think of a retort, or, perhaps think- 
ing she had said enough, Madame gave him a dig- 
nified bow, and compressed her lips. 

Then the gentleman, who was sitting between 
Rosa and the old peasant, began to wink knowingly 
at the ducks whose heads were sticking out of the 
basket, and when he felt that he had fixed the at- 
tention of his public, he began to tickle them under 
the bills and pretended to joke with them, to make 
the company smile. 

"We have left our little pond, quack! quack! to 
make the acquaintance of the little spit, qu-ack ! 
qu-ack !" 

The unfortunate creatures turned their necks 
away, to avoid his caresses, and made desperate ef- 
forts to escape from their wicker prison ; then sud- 
denly uttered the most lamentable quacks of dis- 
tress. The women burst into laughter. They 
leaned forward and pushed each other, so as to see 



276 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

better ; they were very much interested in the ducks, 
and the gentleman redoubled his airs, his wit, and 
his teasing. 

Rosa joined in, and leaning over her neighbor's 
legs, she kissed the three creatures on the head, and 
immediately all the girls wanted to kiss them in 
turn, and as they did so the gentleman took them on 
his knee, jumped them up and down and pinched 
their arms. The two peasants, who were in even 
greater consternation than their poultry, rolled their 
eyes as if possessed, without venturing to move, 
and their old wrinkled faces showed not a smile, 
nor a twitch. 

f Then the gentleman, who was a commercial trav- 
eler, offered the ladies suspenders by way of sport, 
and taking up one of his packages, he opened it. 
It was a joke, for the parcel contained garters. 
There were blue silk, pink silk, red silk, violet silk, 
mauve silk garters, and the buckles were made of 
two gilt metal Cupids, embracing each other. The 
girls uttered exclamations of delight and looked at 
them with that seriousness natural to all women 
when considering an article of dress. They con- 
sulted one another by looks or whispers, and re- 
plied in the same manner; and Madame Tel- 
lier was longingly handling a pair of orange gar- 
ters that were broader and more imposing-looking 
than the rest; really fit for the mistress of such an 
establishment. 

The gentleman waited, for he had an idea. 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 277 

"Come, my kittens," he said, "you must try 
them on." 

There was a burst of exclamations, and they 
squeezed their petticoats between their legs, but he 
quietly waited his time, and said: "Well, if you 
will not try them on I shall pack them up again." 

And he added cunningly: "I offer any pair they 
like to those who will try them on." 

They would not do it, however, and sat up very 
straight, and looked dignified. But the two Pumps 
looked so distressed that he renewed his offer to 
them, and Flora especially visibly hesitated, and 
he insisted: "Come, my dear, a little courage! Just 
look at that lilac pair; it will suit your dress ad- 
mirably " 

That decided her, and pulling up her dress she 
showed a thick leg fit for a milkmaid, in a coarse 
wrinkled stocking. The commercial traveler 
stooped down and fastened the garter. When he 
had done this, he gave her the lilac pair, and asked : 
"Who next?" 

"I! I!" they all shouted at once, and he began 
on Rosa, who uncovered a shapeless, round thing 
without any ankle, a regular "sausage of a leg," 
as Raphaele used to say. 

Finally Madame Tellier herself put out her leg, 
a handsome, muscular, Norman leg, and in his sur- 
prise and pleasure, the commercial traveler gal- 
lantly took off his hat to salute that master calf, 
like a true French cavalier. 



278 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The two peasants, who were speechless from sur- 
prise, each glanced sidewise out of the corner of 
one eye, and they looked so exactly like fowls that 
the man with the blond beard, when he sat up, said 
"Cut — cut — ker — dah — cut!" under their very 
noses, and that gave rise to another storm of laugh- 
ter. 

The old people got out at Motteville, with their 
basket, their ducks, and their umbrella, and they 
heard the woman say to her husband, as they went 
away: 

"They are a bad lot, and they are going to that 
cursed place, Paris." 

The merry commercial traveler himself left them 
at Rouen, after behaving so coarsely that Madame 
Tellier was obliged to put him sharply in his right 
place, and she added, as a moral: "This will teach 
us not to talk to the first comer." 

At Oissel they changed trains, and at a little sta- 
tion further on Monsieur Joseph Rivet was waiting 
for them with a large cart with a number of chairs 
in it, drawn by a white horse. 

The carpenter politely kissed all the ladies, and 
then helped them into his conveyance. 

Three of them sat on three chairs at the back, 
Raphaele, Madame Tellier and her brother on the 
three chairs in front, while Rosa, who had no seat, 
settled herself as comfortably as she could on tall 
Fernande's knees, and then they set off. 

But the horse's jerky trot shook the cart so ter- 



THE TELLTER HOUSE 279 

ribly that the chairs began to dance, and threw the 
travelers about, to right and left, as if they were 
dancing puppets, which made them scream and 
make horrible faces. They clung on to the sides of 
the vehicle, their bonnets fell on their backs, over 
their faces and on their shoulders, and the white 
horse went on, stretching out his head and holding 
out his little hairless tail, like a rat's, with which 
he whisked his flanks from time to time. 

Joseph Rivet, with one leg on the shafts and the 
other doubled under him, held the reins with his el- 
bows very high, and kept uttering a kind of cluck- 
ing sound, which made the horse prick up his ears 
and go faster. 

The green fields extended on either side of the 
road, and here and there the colza in flower pre- 
sented a waving expanse of yellow, from which 
arose a strong, wholesome, sweet and penetrating 
odor, which the wind carried to some distance. 
Cornflowers showed their blue heads amid the 
rye, and the women wanted to gather them, but 
Monsieur Rivet would not stop. 

Sometimes, a whole field appeared to be covered 
with blood, so thick were the poppies in it, and the 
cart, which looked as if it were filled with flowers 
of more brilliant hue, jogged on through fields 
colored with wild flowers, and disappeared behind 
the trees of a farm, only to reappear and to go on 
again through the yellow or green standing crops, 
studded with red and blue. 



280 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

One o'clock struck as they drove up to the car- 
penter's door. They were exhausted, and pale with 
hunger, as they had eaten nothing since they left 
home. Madame Rivet ran out, and made them 
alight, one after another, and kissed them as soon 
as they were on the ground, and she seemed as if 
she never would tire of kissing her sister-in-law, 
whom she apparently wished to monopolize. They 
had luncheon in the workshop, which had been 
cleared out for the next day's dinner. 

The excellent omelette, followed by boiled chit- 
terlings and accompanied by good hard cider, made 
them all feel comfortable. 

Rivet had taken a glass so that he might drink 
with them, and his wife cooked, waited on them, 
brought in the dishes, took them out, and asked each 
of them in a whisper whether she had everything 
she wanted. A number of boards standing against 
the walls and heaps of shavings that had been swept 
into the corners gave out a smell of planed wood, a 
smell of a carpenter's shop, that resinous odor 
which penetrates to the lungs. 

All wanted to see the little girl, but she had gone 
to church, and would not return until evening, so 
they went out for a stroll in the country. 

It was a small village, through which the high- 
road passed. Ten or a dozen houses on either side 
of a single street were inhabited by the butcher, 
the grocer, the carpenter, the innkeeper, the shoe- 
maker and the baker. 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 281 

The church was at the end of the street, and was 
surrounded by a small churchyard ; and four tall 
lime-trees, which stood outside the porch, shaded 
it completely. It was built of flint, in no particular 
style, and had a slate-roofed steeple. When you 
had passed it, you were again in the open country, 
which was varied here and there by clumps of trees 
which hid the homestead. 

Rivet had given his arm to his sister, out of po- 
liteness, although he was in his working clothes, 
and was walking with her in a dignified manner. 
His wife, who was overwhelmed by Raphaele's 
gold-striped dress, walked between her and Fer- 
nande, and roly-poly Rosa trotted behind with 
Louise and Flora, the Seesaw, who was limping 
along, quite tired out. 

The inhabitants came to their doors, the children 
left off playing, and a window curtain would be 
raised, showing a muslin cap, while an old woman 
with a crutch, who was almost blind, crossed her- 
self as if it were a religious procession, and they 
all gazed for a long time at those handsome ladies 
from town, who had come so far to be present at 
the confirmation of Joseph Rivet's little girl, and 
the carpenter rose very much in the public estima- 
tion. 

As they passed the church they heard some chil- 
dren with shrill voices singing a hymn, but Madame 
Tellier would not let them go in, for fear of dis- 
turbing the little cherubs. 



282 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

After a walk, during which Joseph Rivet enu- 
merated the principal landed proprietors, spoke 
about the yield of the land and the productiveness 
of the cows and sheep, he took his tribe of women 
home and installed them in his house, and as it was 
very small, they had to put two women in each 
room. 

Just for once. Rivet said, he would sleep in the 
workshop on the shavings ; his wife was to share 
her bed with her sister-in-law, and Fernande and 
Raphaele were to sleep together in the next room. 
Louise and Flora were put into the kitchen, where 
they had a mattress on the floor, and Rosa had a 
little dark closet to herself at the top of the stairs, 
close to the loft, where the candidate for confirma- 
tion was to sleep. 

When the little girl came in, she was over- 
whelmed with kisses; all the women wished 
to embrace her, with that need of tender expan- 
sion, that habit of professional demonstration, 
which had made them kiss the ducks in the railway 
carriage. 

Each took her on her knees, stroked her soft, 
fair hair, and pressed her in their arms with ve- 
hement and spontaneous outbursts of affection, and 
the child, who was very good and religious, bore 
it all patiently. 

As the day had been a tiring one for all, they 
went to bed soon after dinner. The whole village 
was wrapped in that perfect stillness of the coun- 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 283 

try, which is almost like a religious silence, and the 
girls, who were accustomed to the noisy evenings 
of their establishment, felt rather impressed by the 
perfect repose of the sleeping village, and they 
shivered, not with cold, but with those little shivers 
of loneliness that come over uneasy and troubled 
hearts. 

As soon as they were in bed, two and two to- 
gether, they clasped each other in their arms, as if 
to protect themselves against this feeling of awe 
at the calm, profound slumber of the earth. But 
Rosa, who was alone in her little dark nook, felt 
a vague and painful emotion come over her. 

She was tossing about in bed, unable to sleep, 
when she heard the faint sobs of a crying child 
close to her head, through the partition. She was 
frightened, and called out, and was answered by a 
weak voice, broken by sobs. It was the little girl, 
who was used to sleeping in her mother's room, 
and who was afraid in her small attic. 

Rosa was delighted; she rose softly not to 
awaken anyone, and went and brought the child 
into her warm bed. kissed her and pressed her to 
her bosom, lavished exaggerated manifestations of 
tenderness on her, and at last grew calmer herself 
and went to sleep. And until morning the candi- 
date for confirmation slept with her head on Rosa's 
bosom. 

At five o'clock the little church-bell, ringing the 
Angelus, awoke the women, who usually slept the 
whole morning long. 



284 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The villagers were up already, and the women 
went busily from house to house, carefully carrying 
short, starched muslin frocks or very long wax 
tapers, tied in the middle with a bow of ribbon and 
gold, and with dents in the wax for the fingers. 

The sun was already high in the blue sky, which 
still had a rosy tint toward the horizon, like a faint 
remaining trace of dawn. Families of fowls were 
walking about outside the houses, and here and 
there a black cock, with a glistening breast, raised 
his head, crowned by his red comb, flapped his 
wings, and uttered his shrill crow, which other 
cocks echoed. 

Vehicles of all sorts came from neighboring par- 
ishes, stopping at the different houses, and tall 
Norman women alighted, wearing dark gowns, with 
kerchiefs crossed over the bosom, fastened with 
silver brooches a hundred years old. 

The men had put blue smocks over their new 
frock-coats, or over their old dress-coats of green 
cloth, the two tails of which hung down below their 
blouses. When the horses were in the stable, thee 
was a double line of rustic conveyances along the 
road ; carts, cabriolets, tilburys, wagonettes, traps 
of every shape and age, tipping forward on their 
shafts, or tipping backward with the shafts up in 
the air. 

The carpenter's house was as busy as a bee-hive. 
The women, in dressing-jackets and petticoats, with 
their thin, short hair, which looked faded and worn. 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 285 

hanging down their backs, were busy dressing the 
child, who was standing quietly on a table, while 
Madame Tellier directed the movements of her 
battalion. They washed her, arranged her hair, 
dressed her, and with the help of pins, they ar- 
ranged the folds of her dress, and took in the waist- 
band, which was too large. 

When she was ready, they charged her to sit 
down and not move, and the women hurried off to 
prepare themselves. 

The church-bell began to ring again, and its tinkle 
was lost in the air, like a feeble voice soon drowned 
in space. The candidates came out of the houses 
and went toward the parochial building, which con- 
tained the two schools and the mansion-house, and 
which stood at one end of the village, while the 
church was situated at the other. 

The parents, in their best clothes, followed their 
children, with embarrassed looks and the clumsy 
movements of bodies bent by toil. 

The little girls disappeared in a cloud of muslin, 
which looked like whipped cream, while the lads, 
whose appearance suggested embryo waiters in a 
cafe, and whose heads shone with pomatum, walked 
with their legs far apart, so as not to get any dust 
or dirt on their black trousers. 

It was something for a family to be proud of. 
when a large number of relatives, who had come 
from a distance, surrounded a child, and the car- 
penter's triumph was complete. 

Vol. 2—19 



286 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

Madame Tellier's regiment, with its leader at the 
head, followed Constance; the father gave his arm 
to his sister, the mother walked beside Raphaele, 
Fernande with Rosa, and Louise and Flora to- 
gether; and thus they proceeded majestically- 
through the village, like a general's staff in full 
uniform, and the effect on the villagers was start- 
ling. 

At the school, the girls ranged themselves under 
the supervision of a Sister of Mercy, and the boys 
under that of the schoolmaster, and the procession 
set off, singing a hymn as they went. The boys 
led the way, in two files, between the two rows of 
vehicles, from which the horses had been taken out, 
and the girls followed in the same order; and as 
all the people in the village had given the town 
ladies the precedence out of politeness, they came 
immediately behind the girls, and lengthened the 
double line of the procession still more, three on 
the right and three on the left, while their bril- 
liant gowns were as striking as a display of fire- 
works. 

When they entered the church, the congregation 
grew quite excited. They pressed against one an- 
other, turned round, and jostled in order to see, 
and some of the devout ones spoke almost aloud, 
for they were so astonished at the sight of the 
ladies whose robes were more elaborate than the 
priest's vestments. 

The Mayor offered them his pew, the first one 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 287 

on the right, close to the choir, and Madame Tel- 
Her sat there with her sister-in-law, Fernande and 
Raphaele. Rosa, Louise and Flora occupied the 
second seat in company with the carpenter. 

The choir was full of kneeling children, the girls 
on one side and the boys on the other, and their 
long wax tapers looked like lances pointing in all 
directions ; three men stood in front of the lectern, 
singing as loud as they could. 

They prolonged the syllables of the sonorous 
Latin indefinitely, holding on to "Amens" with in- 
terminable ''a — a's," which the reed stop of the 
organ sustained in a monotonous, long-drawn-out 
tone. 

A child's shrill voice took up the reply, and from 
time to time a priest, sitting in a stall and wearing 
a biretta, got up, muttered something, and sat down 
again, while the three singers continued, their eyes 
fixed on the big book of plain chants lying open be- 
fore them on the outstretched wings of a wooden 
eagle. 

Silence ensued, and the service went on. Toward 
the close, Rosa, who was holding her head in both 
hands, suddenly thought of her mother, her village 
church, and her first communion. She almost fan- 
cied that that day had returned, when she was so 
small and was almost hidden in her white dress, 
and she began to weep. 

At first she wept silently, and the tears dropped 
slowly from her eyes, but her emotion increased 



288 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

with her recollections, and she began to sob. She 
took out her handkerchief, wiped her eyes, and 
held it to her mouth, so as not to scream, but it 
was in vain. A sort of rattle escaped her throat, 
and she was answered by two other profound, 
heart-breaking sobs ; for her two neighbors, Louise 
and Flora, who were kneeling near her, overcome 
by similar recollections, were sobbing by her side, 
amid a flood of tears ; and as weeping is contagious, 
Madame Tellier in turn soon found that her own 
eyes were wet, and on turning to her sister-in-law, 
she saw that all the occupants of her seat also were 
weeping. 

Soon, throughout the church, here and there, a 
wife, a mother, a sister, seized by the strange sym- 
pathy of poignant emotion, and affected at the sight 
of those beautiful ladies on their knees, shaken 
with sobs, began to moisten her own cambric hand- 
kerchief, and press her beating heart with her hand. 

As sparks from an engine will set fire to dry 
grass, so the tears of Rosa and her companions in- 
fected the whole congregation in a moment. Men, 
women, old men. and lads in new smocks, soon 
were all sobbing, and something superhuman 
seemed to be hovering over their heads — a spirit, 
the powerful breath of an invisible and all-powerful 
being. 

Suddenly a species of madness seemed to pervade 
the church, the noise of a crowd in a state of 
frenzy, a tempest of sobs and stifled cries. It 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 289 

came like the gusts of wind that blow through the 
trees in a forest; and the priest, paralyzed by emo- 
tion, stammered out incoherent prayers, without 
finding the right words — ardent prayers of the 
soul soaring to heaven. 

Gradually the people behind him grew calmer. 
The cantors, in all the dignity of their white sur- 
plices, went on in somewhat uncertain voices, and 
the reed-stop itself seemed hoarse, as if the instru- 
ment had been weeping; the priest, however, raised 
his hand to command silence, and went and stood 
on the chancel steps, when everybody became silent 
at the same instant. 

After a few remarks on what had just taken 
place, which he attributed to a miracle, he con- 
tinued, turning to the seats where the carpenter's 
guests were sitting: 

"I especially thank you, my dear sisters, who 
have come from so long a distance, and whose pres- 
ence among us, whose evident faith and ardent 
piety, have set so salutary an example to all. You 
have edified my parish ; your emotion has warmed 
all hearts; without you, this great day would not, 
perhaps, have had this really divine character. It 
is sufficient, at times, that there should be one 
chosen lamb, for the Lord to descend on his flock." 

His voice failed him again from emotion, and he 
said no more, but concluded the service. 

Everyone left the church as quickly as possible; 
the children themselves were restless and tired from 



290 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

so prolonged a tension of the mind. The parents 
left the church, to see about the dinner at home. 

A crowd stood outside, a noisy crowd, a babel 
of loud voices, in which the shrill Norman accent 
was discernible. The villagers formed two ranks, 
and when the children appeared, each family took 
possession of their own. 

The whole houseful of women caught hold of 
Constance, surrounded her and kissed her, and 
Rosa w-as especially demonstrative. At last she 
took hold of one hand, while Madame Tellier took 
the other, and Raphaele and Fernande held up 
her long muslin skirt, that it might not drag in the 
dust. Louise and Flora brought up the rear with 
Madame Rivet ; and the child, who was very silent 
and thoughtful, set off for home, in the midst of 
this guard of honor. 

Dinner was served in the workshop, on long 
boards supported by trestles, and through the open 
door they could see all the gayety that was go- 
ing on in the village. Everywhere they were feast- 
ing; through every window were to be seen tables 
surrounded by families in their Sunday best; a 
cheerful noise was heard in every house, while the 
men sat in their shirt-sleeves, drinking glass after 
glass of cider. 

In the carpenter's house the gayety maintained 
somewhat of an air of reserve, the consequence of 
the emotion of the girls in the morning; Rivet 
was the only one who was in a jolly mood, and he 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 291 

drank to excess. Madame Tellier looked at the 
clock every moment, for, in order not to lose two 
days running, they must take the 3 :55 train, which 
would bring them to Fecamp by dark. 

The carpenter tried very hard to distract her at- 
tention, so as to keep his guests until the next day, 
but he did not succeed, for she never joked when 
there was business on hand, and as soon as they 
had had their coffee she ordered her girls to make 
haste and get ready ; then, turning to her brother, 
she said : 

''You must harness the horse immediately," and 
went herself to finish her preparations. 

When she came down again, her sister-in-law 
was waiting to speak to her about the child, and a 
long conversation took place, in which, however, 
nothing was settled. The carpenter's wife was art- 
ful, and pretended to be very much affected, but 
Madame Tellier, who was holding the girl on her 
knee, would not pledge herself to anything definite, 
but merely gave vague promises — she would not 
forget her, there was plenty of time, and besides, 
they would meet again. 

But the conveyance did not come to the door, 
and the women did not come downstairs. Upstairs, 
they even heard loud laughter, romping, little 
screams, and much clapping of hands, and so, while 
the carpenter's wife went to the stable to see 
whether the cart was ready, Madame went upstairs. 

Rivet, very drunk, was romping with Rosa, who 



292 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

was half choking with laughter. Louise and Flora 
were holding him by the arms and trying to calm 
him, as they were shocked at his levity after that 
morning's ceremony; but Raphaele and Fernande 
were urging him on, writhing and holding their 
sides with laughter, and they uttered shrill cries at 
every rebuff the drunken fellow received. 

The man was furious ; his face was red, and he 
was trying to shake off the two women who were 
clinging to him, while he was pulling Rosa's skirt 
W'ith all his might, and stammering incoherently 

Madame Tellier, very indignant, went up to her 
brother, seized him by the shoulders, and threw him 
out of the room with such violence that he fell 
against the wall in the passage, and a minute after- 
ward, they heard him pumping water on his head 
in the yard. When he reappeared with the cart, he 
was quite calm. 

They set off in the same way they had come the 
day before, and the little white horse went along 
with his quick, jogging trot. Under the hot sun, 
their fun, which had been checked during dinner, 
broke out again. The girls now were amused at the 
jolting of the cart, pushed their neighbors' chairs, 
and burst out laughing every moment. 

There was a glare of light over the country, 
which dazzled their eyes, and the wheels raised two 
trails of dust along the highroad. Presently, Fer- 
nande, who was fond of music, asked Rosa to sing 
something, and she boldly struck up the Gros Cure 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 293 

de Meudon, but Madame Tellier made her stop im- 
mediately, as she thought it a very unsuitable song 
for such a day, and she added : 

"Sing us something of Beranger's." And so, 
after a moment's hesitation, Rosa began Beranger's 
song The Grandmother in her worn voice, all the 
girls, and even Madame Tellier herself, joining in 
the chorus : 

"How I regret 

My dimpled arms, 
My nimble legs, 

And vanished charms." 

"That is capital!" Rivet declared, carried away 
by the rhythm, and they shouted the refrain to 
every stanza, while Rivet beat time on the shaft with 
his foot, with the reins on the back of the horse, 
who, as if he himself were carried away by the 
rhythm, broke into a wild gallop, and threw all the 
women in a heap, one on top of another, in the 
bottom of the cart. 

They got up, laughing as if they were mad, and 
the song went on, shouted at the top of their voices, 
beneath the burning sky, among the ripening grain, 
to the rapid gallop of the little horse, who set off 
every time the refrain was sung, and galloped a 
hundred yards, to their great delight, while occa- 
sionally a stone-breaker by the roadside sat up and 
looked at the load of shouting females through his. 
wire spectacles. 



294 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

When they aHghted at the station, the carpenter 
said: 

*'I am sorry you are going; we might have had 
some merry times together." But Madame TelHer 
repHed very sensibly: "Everything has its right 
time, and we cannot always be enjoying ourselves." 
Then Rivet had a sudden inspiration : 

"Look here, I will come and see you at Fecamp 
next month." And he gave Rosa a roguish and 
knowing look. 

"Come," his sister replied, "you must be sen- 
sible ; you may come if you like, but you are not to 
be up to any tricks." 

He did not reply, and as they heard the whistle 
of the train, he immediately began to kiss them all. 
When it came to Rosa's turn, he tried to get to her 
mouth, which she, however, smiling with her lips 
closed, turned away from him each time by a rapid 
movement of her head to one side. He held her 
in his arms, but he could not attain his object, as his 
large whip, which he was holding in his hand and 
waving behind the girl's back in desperation, inter- 
fered with his efforts. 

"Passengers for Rouen, take your seats!" a 
guard cried, and they got in. There was a slight 
whistle, followed by a louder one from the engine, 
which noisily puffed out its first jet of steam, while 
the wheels began to turn a little with a visible ef- 
fort, and Rivet left the station and ran along by the 
track to get another look at Rosa; as the carriage 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 295 

passed him he began to crack his whip and jump, 
while he sang at the top of his voice: 



"How I regret 

My dimpled arms, 
My nimble legs, 
And vanished charms." 



He watched a white handkerchief, which some- 
body was waving, as it disappeared in the distance. 



Ill 



All slept the peaceful sleep of quiet consciences 
until they reached Rouen, and when they returned 
to the house, refreshed and rested, Madame Tellier 
could not refrain from saying: 

" It was all very well, but all the time I was long- 
ing to get home." 

They hurried over their supper, and then, after 
they had assumed their usual evening costume, 
they waited for their regular visitors. The little 
colored lamp outside the door told the passers-by 
that Madame Tellier had returned, and in a mo- 
ment the news spread, nobody knew how or through 
whom. 

Monsieur Philippe, the banker's son, even car- 
ried his forgetfulness so far as to send a special 
messenger to Monsieur Tournevau, who was in the 
bosom of his family. 



296 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The fish-curer invited several cousins to dinner 
every Sunday, and they were having coffee, when a 
man came in with a letter in his hand. Monsieur 
Tournevau was much excited ; he opened the envel- 
ope and grew pale ; it contained only these words in 
pencil : 

"The cargo of cod has been found; the ship has come 
into port; good business for you. Come immediately." 

He felt in his pockets, gave the messenger two- 
pence, and suddenly blushing to his ears, he said : 
"I must go out." He handed his wife the laconic 
and mysterious note, rang the bell, and when the 
servant came in he asked her to bring him his hat 
and coat immediately. As soon as he was in the 
street, he began to hurry, and the way seemed to 
him to be twice as long as usual, in consequence 
of his impatience. 

Madame Tellier's establishment had assumed 
quite a festal look. On the ground floor, a num- 
ber of sailors were making a deafening noise, and 
Louise and Flora drank with one and another, and 
w^ere being called for in every direction at once. 

The upstairs room was full by nine o'clock. Mon- 
sieur Vasse, the Judge of the Tribunal of Com- 
merce, Madame Tellier's regular but platonic 
wooer, was talking to her in a corner in a low 
voice, and both were smiling, as if they were about 
to comt to an understanding. 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 297 

Monsieur Poulin, the ex-Mayor, was talking to 
Rosa, and she was patting the old gentleman's 
white whiskers. 

Tall Fernande was on the sofa, her feet on the 
coat of Monsieur Pinipesse, the tax-collector, and 
her back against young Monsieur Philippe; her 
right arm was around his neck, while she held a 
cigarette in her left hand. 

Raphaele appeared to be talking seriously with 
Monsieur Dupuis, the insurance agent, and she fin- 
ished by saying: "Yes, I will, yes." 

The door opened suddenly ; Monsieur Tournevau 
came in, and was greeted with enthusiastic cries of : 
"Long live Tournevau!" And Raphaele, who was 
dancing alone up and down the room, threw herself 
into his arms. He seized her in a vigorous embrace 
and, without saying a word, lifted her as if she had 
been a feather. 

Rosa was still chatting to the ex-Mayor, kissing 
him and pulling both his whiskers at the same time 
in order to keep his head straight. 

Fernande and Madame Tellier remained with the 
four men, and Monsieur Phihppe exclaimed: "I 
will pay for some champagne ; bring three bottles, 
Madame Tellier." Fernande gave him a hug, and 
whispered to him: "Play a waltz, will you?" So 
he sat down at the old piano in the corner, and 
managed to drum a wheezy waltz out of the depths 
of the instrument. 

The tall girl put her arms around the tax-coUec- 



298 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

tor, Madame Tellier let Monsieur Vasse take her 
round the waist, and the two couples turned round, 
kissing as they danced. Monsieur \'asse, who had 
formerly danced in good society, waltzed with such 
elegance that Madame Tellier was quite captivated. 

Frederic brought the champagne; the first cork 
popped, and Monsieur Philippe played the introduc- 
tion to a quadrille, through which the four dancers 
walked in society fashion, decorously, with pro- 
priety, deportment, bows and curtseys, and then 
they began to drink. 

Monsieur Philippe next struck up a lively polka, 
and Monsieur Tournevau led off with the hand- 
some Jewess, whom he held without letting her feet 
touch the ground. Monsieur Pinipesse and Mon- 
sieur \"asse had begun again with renewed vigor, 
and from time to time one couple or another would 
stop to toss off a long draught of sparkling wine. 
The dance was threatening to become never-ending, 
when Rosa opened the door. 

"I want to dance!'' she exclaimed. And she 
caught hold of Monsieur Dupuis, who was sitting 
idle on the couch, and the dance began again. 

But the bottles were empty. "I will pay for 
one," Monsieur Tournevau said. ''So will I," 
Monsieur Vasse declared. ''And I will do the 
same," Monsieur Dupuis remarked. 

All began to clap their hands, and it soon be- 
came a regular ball. From time to time Louise 
and Flora ran upstairs quickly and had a few turns, 



THE TELLIER HOUSE 299 

while their patrons below grew impatient ; then they 
returned regretfully to the tap-room. At midnight 
everyone was still dancing. 

Madame Tellier let them amuse themselves while 
she had long private talks in corners with Monsieur 
Vasse, as if to settle the last details of something 
that had been agreed upon. 

At last, at one o'clock, the two married men, 
Monsieur Tournevau and Monsieur Pinipesse, de- 
clared that they must go home, and wanted to 
pay. Nothing was charged for except the cham- 
pagne, and that cost only six francs a bottle, instead 
of ten, which was the usual price ; and when they 
expressed their surprise at such generosity, Ma- 
dame Tellier, who was beaming, said to them: 

"We don't have a holiday every day." 



THE PARRICIDE 

A PLEA of insanity had been presented by the 
lawyer. Could anyone explain this strange 
crime otherwise? 

One morning, on a grassy slope near Chatou, two 
corpses had been found, of a man and a woman, 
who had been well known and wealthy. They were 
no longer young, and had been married since the 
preceding year, the woman having been a widow 
for three years before that. 

It was not known that they had enemies; they 
had not been robbed. It appeared that they had 
been thrown from the roadside into the river, after 
being struck, one after the other, with a long iron 
spike. 

The inquest revealed nothing. Several boatmen 
who had been questioned knew nothing. The mat- 
ter was about to be given up, when a young cabinet- 
maker from a neighboring village, Georges Louis, 
nicknamed "the bourgeois" gave himself up to 
justice. 

To all questions his only reply was : 

"I had known the man for two years, the woman 

300 



THE PARRICIDE 301 

for six months. They often engaged me to repair 
old furniture for them, because I am a clever work- 
man." 

When he was asked: "Why did you kill them?" 
he would answer obstinately: "I killed them be- 
cause I wanted to kill them." 

Nothing more could be got out of him. 

The man had undoubtedly been an illegitimate 
child, put out to nurse and then abandoned. He 
had no other name than Georges Louis, but as 
he became particularly intelligent, after growing up 
with a certain good taste and native refinement 
which his acquaintances did not possess, he was 
nicknameo "the bourgeois/' and never was called 
otherwise. He had become remarkably clever at 
the trade of a cabinet-maker. It was said that he 
was a socialist fanatic, a believer in communistic and 
nihilistic doctrines, a great reader of bloodthirsty 
novels, an influential political agitator and a mov- 
ing orator in the public meetings of workmen or of 
farmers. 

The lawyer had pleaded insanity. 

Indeed, how could one imagine that this work- 
man should kill his best customers, rich and gen- 
erous (as he knew), from whom in two years he 
had earned three thousand francs (his books 
showed it) ? Only one explanation could be of- 
fered: insanity, the fixed idea of the nondescript 
who wreaks vengeance on two bourgeois, on all the 
bourgeoisie, and the lawyer made a clever allusion 

Vol. 2—20 



302 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

to this nickname of "the bourgeois," given through- 
out the neighborhood to this poor wretch. 

"Is this irony not enough," he said, "to unbal- 
ance the mind of this poor fellow, who has neither 
father nor mother? He is an ardent republican. 
What am I saying? He even belongs to the same 
political party the members of which the Govern- 
ment formerly shot or exiled, but which it now wel- 
comes with open arms — this party to which arson is 
a principle and murder an ordinary occurrence. 

"These gloomy doctrines, now applauded in pub- 
lic meetings, have ruined this man. He has heard 
republicans — even women, yes, women! — -^sk for 
the blood of Monsieur Gambetta, and of Monsieur 
Grevy ; his weakened mind gave way ; he wanted 
blood — the blood of a bourgeois! 

"It is not he whom you should condemn, gentle- 
men, it is the Commune!" 

Throughout the courtroom murmurs of assent 
could be heard. Everyone felt that the lawyer had 
won his case. The prosecuting attorney did not 
oppose him. 

The presiding judge asked the accused the cus- 
tomary question: "Prisoner, is there anything that 
you wish to add to your defense?" 

The man arose. 

He was a short, flaxen blond, with calm, clear, 
gray eyes. A strong, frank, distinct voice came 
from this frail-looking young man, which, at the 
first words, quickly changed the opinion of him 
which had been formed. 



THE PARRICIDE 303 

He spoke loud, in a declamatory manner, but so 
distinctly that every word could be understood in 
the farthest corners of the long hall : 

"Your Honor, as I do not wish to go to a hospi- 
tal for the insane, and as I even prefer death to 
that, I will confess everything. 

"I killed this man and this woman because they 
were my parents. 

"Now, listen and judge me. 

"A woman, having given birth to a boy, sent him 
out somewhere to nurse. Did she even know to 
what place her accomplice carried this innocent 
little being, condemned to eternal misery, to the 
shame of an illegitimate birth ; to more than that 
— to death, since he was abandoned, since the nurse, 
no longer receiving the monthly pension, could let 
him die of hunger and neglect, as is often the case? 

"The woman who nursed me was honest, better, 
more noble, more of a mother than my own mother. 
She brought me up. She did wrong in doing her 
duty. It is more humane to let them die, these little 
wretches who are abandoned in suburban villages, 
as garbage is thrown away. 

"I grew up with an indistinct impression that 
I bore some burden of shame. One day the other 
children called me a 'bastard.' They did not know 
what this word meant, which one of them had 
heard at home. T, too, was ignorant of its mean- 
ing, but none the less I felt the sting. 

"I was, I may say, one of the cleverest boys in 



304 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

the school. I should have been a good man, your 
Honor, perhaps a man of superior intellect, had not 
my parents committed the crime of abandon- 
ing me. 

"Yes, this crime was committed against me. I 
was the victim, they the guilty ones. I was de- 
fenseless, they were pitiless. Their duty was to 
love me ; they cast me ofif. 

"To be sure, I owed them life — but is life a 
boon? To me, at least, it was a misfortune. After 
their shameful desertion, I owed them only ven- 
geance. They committed against me the most in- 
human, the most infamous, the most monstrous 
crime that can be committed against a human crea- 
ture. 

"A man that has been insulted, strikes; a man 
that has been robbed, takes back his own by force. 
A man that has been deceived, played upon, tor- 
tured, kills ; a man that has been struck, kills ; a 
man that has been dishonored, kills. I have been 
robbed, deceived, tortured, morally struck, dishon- 
ored — all this to a greater degree than those whose 
anger you excuse. 

"I revenged myself — I killed! It was my legiti- 
mate right. I took their happy life in exchange for 
the terrible one which they had forced on me. 

"You will call me parricide! Were these per- 
sons my parents, for whom I was an abominable 
burden, a terror, an infamous shame ; for whom my 
birth v/as a calamity, and my life a threat of dis- 



THE PARRICIDE 305 

grace ? They sought their selfish pleasure ; they got 
an unexpected child. They suppressed the child. 
My turn came to do the same for them, 

"Yet, until quite recently, I was ready to love 
them. As I have said, this man, my father, came to 
me for the first time two years ago. I suspected 
nothing. He ordered two articles of furniture. I 
discovered later that, under the seal of secrecy, 
naturally, he had sought information from the 
priest. 

"He returned often. He gave me a quantity of 
work and paid me well. Sometimes he would 
even talk to me of one thing or another. I felt a 
growing aflfection for him. 

"At the beginning of this year he brought with 
him his wife, my mother. When she* entered, she 
trembled so that I thought her to be suffering from 
some nervous disease. Then she asked for a seat 
and a glass of water. She said nothing; she looked 
around abstractedly at my work, and answered only 
'yes' or 'no,' at random, to all the questions he 
asked her. After she had gone I thought her a 
little unbalanced mentally. 

"The next month they returned. She was 
then calm, self-controlled. That day they chatted 
a long time, and left me a rather large order. I 
saw her three times more, without suspecting any- 
thing. But one day she began to talk to me of my 
life, of my childhood, of my parents. I answered : 
'Madame, my parents were wretches who deserted 



306 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

me.' Then she clutched at her heart and fell in a 
swoon. I thought immediately: 'She is my 
mother !' but I took care not to let her notice any- 
thing. I wished to observe her. 

"I, in turn, sought out information about them. 
I learned that they had been married since last July, 
my mother having been a widow for only three 
years. There had been rumors that they had loved 
each other during the lifetime of the first husband, 
but there was no proof of it. / was the proof! — 
the proof which they had at first hidden and then 
hoped to destroy. 

"I waited. She returned one evening, escorted 
as usual by my father. That day she seemed deeply 
moved, I know not why. When she was leaving, 
she said to me: 'I wish you success, because you 
seem to me to be honest and a hard worker ; some 
day, you will undoubtedly think of being married ; 
I have come to help you choose freely the woman 
that may suit you. I have been married once 
against my inclination, and I know what suffering 
it causes. Now I am rich, childless, free, mistress 
of my fortune. Here is your dowry.' 

"She held out to me a large sealed envelope. 

"I looked her straight in the eyes; and said: 
'Are you my mother ?' 

"She recoiled a few steps and hid her face 
in her hands, in order no longer to see me. He, the 
man, my father, supported her in his arms, and 
cried to me : 'You must be mad !" 



THE PARRICIDE 307 

"I answered: 'Not in the least. I know that 
you are my parents. I cannot be thus deceived. 
Admit it and I will keep the secret ; I will bear you 
no ill will; I will remain what I am, a carpenter.' 

"He retreated toward the door, still supporting 
his wife, who was beginning to sob. I locked the 
door quickly, put the key in my pocket, and con- 
tinued : 'Look at her and dare to deny that she is 
my mother.' 

"Then he flew into a passion, became pale, terri- 
fied at the thought that the scandal which had so 
far been avoided might break out suddenly ; that 
their position, their good name, their honor might 
all at once be lost; he stammered: 'You are a 
rascal ; you wish to obtain money from us. That is 
the thanks we get for trying to help the common 
people !' 

"My mother, bewildered, kept repeating: 'Let us 
go away from here, let us go away !' 

"When he found the door locked, he exclaimed: 
'If you do not open this door immediately I will 
have you thrown into prison for blackmail and as- 
sault!' 

"I remained calm; I opened the door quietly and 
saw them disappear in the darkness. 

"Then it seemed that I had been suddenly or- 
phaned, deserted, pushed to the wall. I was seized 
with an overwhelming sadness, mingled with anger, 
hatred, disgust ; my whole being rose in revolt 
against the injustice, the meanness, the dishonor, 



308 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

the rejected love. I began to run, in order to over- 
take them along the Seine, which they had to follow 
in order to reach the station of Chatou. 

"I soon overtook them. It was now quite dark. 
I crept up behind them softly, that they might not 
hear me. My mother was still weeping. My father 
was saying : 'It's all your own fault. Why did you 
wish to see him? It was absurd, in our position. 
We could have assisted him from a distance, with- 
out showing ourselves. Of what use are these 
dangerous visits, since we cannot recognize him?' 

"Then I rushed up to them, beseeching. I cried: 
'You see ! You are my parents. You have already 
rejected me once, would you repulse me again?' 

"Then, your Honor, he struck me ! I swear it on 
my honor, before the law and my country. He 
struck me, and, as I seized him by the collar, he 
drew a revolver from his pocket. 

"The blood rushed to my head ; I no longer knew 
what I was doing; I had my compasses in my 
pocket; I struck him with them as often as I could. 

"Then my mother began to cry: 'Help! Mur- 
der!' and to pull my beard. They tell me that I 
killed her, too. How do I know what I did then? 

"When I saw them both lying on the ground, 
without thinking, I threw them into the Seine. 

"That is all. Now, sentence me." 

The prisoner sat down. After this revelation, 
the case was carried over to the following session. 
It will come up very soon. If we were jurymen, 
what should we do with this parricide? 



THE FORTUNE OF WAR 

BESIEGED Paris was in the clutch of famine. 
Even the birds on the roofs and the rats 
in the sewers were growing scarce. People 
would eat anything they could get. 

As Monsieur Morissot, watchmaker by profes- 
sion and idler for the time being, was strolling along 
the boulevard one bright January morning, his 
hands in his trousers' pockets and his stomach 
empty, he suddenly came face-to-face with an ac- 
quaintance — Monsieur Sauvage, an old fishing ac- 
quaintance. 

Before the war broke out Morissot had been in 
the habit, every Sunday morning, of setting forth 
with a bamboo rod in his hand and a tin box on his 
back. He took the Argenteuil train, got out at 
Colombes, and walked to the He Marante. The 
moment he arrived at this place of his dreams he 
began to fish, and usually he fished till it was dark. 

Every Sunday he met in this very place Mon- 
sieur Sauvage, a stout, jolly little man, a draper in 
the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, also an ardent 

309 



310 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

fisherman. They often spent half the day side by 
side, rod in hand, with feet hanging over the water, 
and a warm friendship had sprung up between the 
two men. 

Some days they did not even speak; at other 
times they chatted ; but they understood each other 
perfectly without the aid of words, having con- 
genial tastes and feelings. 

In spring, about ten o'clock in the morning when 
the early sun caused a slight fog to float on the 
water and gently warmed the backs of the two 
enthusiastic fishermen, Morissot would occasion- 
ally say to his neighbor: 

"It is very pleasant here." 

To which the other would reply: "I can't imag- 
ine anything better !" 

These few words sufficed to make them under- 
stand and appreciate each other. 

In autumn, when the setting sun shed a blood- 
red glow over the western sky, and the reflection of 
the crimson clouds tinged the whole river with red, 
flushed the faces of the two friends, and gilded the 
trees, whose leaves were already turning at the first 
chill hint of winter. Monsieur Sauvage would some- 
times smile at Morissot, and say: 

"What a superb spectacle!" 

And Morissot would answer, without taking his 
eyes from his float: 

"This is much better than the boulevard, isn't 
it?" 



THE FORTUNE OF WAR 311 

This morning, when they recognized each other, 
they shook hands cordially, affected at the thought 
of meeting under such changed conditions. 

Monsieur Sauvage, with a sigh, murmured: 
"These are sad times!" 

Morissot shook his head mournfully. 

"And such weather! This is the first fine day of 
the year." 

The sky was, in fact, of a bright, cloudless blue. 

They walked along together, reflective and sad. 

"Only to think of the fishing!" said Morissot. 
"What fine times we used to have!" 

"When shall we be able to fish again?" asked 
^lonsieur Sauvage. 

They entered a small cafe and took an absinthe 
together, then resumed their walk along the boule- 
vard. 

Morissot stopped suddenly. 

"Shall we have another absinthe?" he said. 

"As you please," agreed Monsieur Sauvage. 

And they entered another wine-shop. 

They were quite unsteady when they came out, 
owing to the effect of the alcohol on their empty 
stomachs. It was a mild day, and a gentle breeze 
fanned their faces. The fresh air completed the 
effect of the alcohol on Monsieur Sauvage. He 
stopped suddenly, saying: 

"Suppose we go there?" 

"Where?" 

"Fishing." 



312 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"But where?" 

"Why, to the old place. The French outposts 
are close to Colombes. I know Colonel Dumoulin, 
and we can easily get leave to pass." 

Morissot trembled with eagerness. 

"Very well. I agree." 

So they separated, to get their rods and lines. 

An hour later they were walking side by side on 
the highroad. Presently they reached the villa oc- 
cupied by the Colonel. He smiled at their request, 
granted it, and they resumed their walk, furnished 
with a password. 

Soon they left the outposts behind them, made 
their way through deserted Colombes, and found 
themselves on the outskirts of the small vineyards 
that border the Seine. It was about eleven o'clock. 

Before them lay the village of Argenteuil, ap- 
parently lifeless. The heights of Orgement and 
Sannois overlooked the landscape. The great plain, 
extending as far as Nanterre, was quite empty — a 
waste of lead-colored soil and bare cherry-trees. 

Monsieur Sauvage, pointing to the heights, mur- 
mured : 

"The Prussians are up there!" 

The sight of the deserted country filled the two 
friends with vague misgivings. 

The Prussians ! They never had seen them as 
yet, but they had felt their presence in the neigh- 
borhood of Paris for months past — ruining France, 
pillaging, massacring, starving the people. A kind 



THE FORTUNE OF WAR 313 

of superstitious terror mingled with the hatred they 
already felt toward this unknown, victorious nation. 

"Suppose we were to meet any of them?" said 
Morissot. 

"We would offer them some fish," replied Mon- 
sieur Sauvage, with that Parisian light-heartedness 
which nothing can wholly quench. 

Still, they hesitated to show themselves in the 
open country, overawed by the perfect silence that 
reigned around them. 

At last Monsieur Sauvage said boldly : 

"Come, we must make a start; only let us be 
careful !" 

They made their way through one of the vine- 
yards, bent almost double, creeping along beneath 
the cover afforded by the vines, with eye and ear 
alert. 

A piece of bare ground remained to be crossed 
before they could gain the river bank. They ran 
across this, and, as soon as they were at the water's 
edge, concealed themselves among the dry reeds. 

Morissot placed his ear to the ground, to ascer- 
tain, if possible, whether footsteps were coming 
their way. He heard nothing. They seemed to be 
entirely alone. Their confidence was restored, and 
they began to fish. 

Before them the deserted He Marante hid them 
from the farther shore. The little restaurant was 
closed and looked as if it had been deserted for 
years. 



314 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

Monsieur Sauvage caught the first gudgeon, 
Monsieur Morissot the second, and almost every 
moment one or the other raised his Hne with a 
little, glittering, silvery fish wriggling at the end; 
they were having excellent sport. 

They slipped their catch gently into a close-woven 
net lying at their feet; they were filled with joy — 
the joy of once more indulging in a pastime of 
which they had long been deprived. 

The sun poured its rays on their backs; they no 
longer heard anything or thought of anything. 
They ignored the rest of the world ; they were fish- 
ing. 

But suddenly a rumbling sound, which seemed to 
come from the bowels of the earth, shook the 
ground beneath them : the guns were resuming 
their work. 

Morissot turned his head and could see toward 
the left beyond the banks of the river, the for- 
midable outline of Mont-Valerien, from whose sum- 
mit arose a white puff of smoke. 

The next instant a second puff followed the first, 
and in a few moments a fresh detonation made the 
earth tremble. 

Others followed, and minute by minute the moun- 
tain gave forth its deadly breath and a milky vapor, 
which rose slowly into the peaceful heaven and 
floated, cloud-like, above the summit of the cliff. 

Monsieur Sauvage shrugged his shoulders. 

"They are at it again !" he said. 



THE FORTUNE OF WAR 315 

Morissot, who was anxiously watching his float 
bobbing up and down, was suddenly seized with 
the angry impatience of a peaceful man toward the 
madmen who were firing thus, and remarked in- 
dignantly : 

"What fools they are to kill one another like 
that!" 

"They're worse than animals," replied Monsieur 
Sauvage. 

And Morissot, who had just caught a bleak, de- 
clared : 

"And to think that it will be just the same so 
long as there are governments!" 

"The Republic would not have declared war," 
interposed Monsieur Sauvage. 

Morissot interrupted him: 

"Under a king we have foreign wars; under a 
republic we have civil war." 

And the two began placidly discussing political 
problems with the sound common sense of peaceful, 
matter-of-fact citizens — agreeing on one point : that 
they never should be free. And Mont-Valerien 
thundered ceaselessly, demolishing the houses of 
the French with its cannon balls, crushing out lives 
of men, destroying many a dream, many a cher- 
ished hope, many a prospective happiness; ruth- 
lessly causing endless woe and suffering in the 
hearts of wives, of daughters, of mothers, in other 
lands. 

"Such is life!" declared Monsieur Sauvage. 



316 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

**Say, rather, such is death!" replied Morissot. 

But they suddenly trembled with alarm at the 
sound of footsteps behind them, and, turning round, 
they perceived close at hand four tall, bearded men, 
dressed after the manner of livery servants and 
wearing flat caps on their heads. They were cov- 
ering the two anglers with their rifles. 

The rods slipped from their owners' grasp and 
floated away down the river. 

Within a few seconds they were seized, bound, 
thrown into a boat, and taken across to the He 
Marante. 

And behind the house they had thought deserted 
were a score of German soldiers. 

A shaggy-looking giant, who was bestriding a 
chair and smoking a long clay pipe, addressed them 
in excellent French with the words : 

"Well, gentlemen, have you had good luck with 
your fishing?" 

Then a soldier deposited at the officers' feet the 
net full of fish, which he had taken care to bring 
away. The Prussian smiled. 

"Not bad, I see. But we have something else to 
talk about. Listen to me, and don't be alarmed : 

"You must know that, in my eyes, you are two 
spies sent to reconnoiter me and my movements. 
Naturally, I capture you and I shoot you. You 
pretended to be fishing, the better to disguise your 
real errand. You have fallen into my hands, and 
must take the consequences. Such is war. 



THE FORTUNE OF WAR 317 

"But as you came here through the outposts you 
must have a password for your return. Tell me 
that password, and I will let you go." 

The two friends, pale as death, stood silently 
side by side, a slight fluttering of the hands alone 
betraying their emotion. 

"No one will ever know," continued the officer, 
"You will return peacefully to your homes, and 
the secret will disappear with you. If you refuse, 
it means death — instant death. Choose for your- 
selves !" 

They stood motionless, and did not open their 
lips. 

The Prussian, perfectly calm, went on, with hand 
outstretched toward the river: 

"Just think that in five minutes you will be at 
the bottom of that water. In five minutes! You 
have relatives, I presume?" 

Mont-Valerien still thundered. 

The two fishermen remained silent. The Ger- 
man turned and gave an order in his own language. 
Then he moved his chair a little way off, that he 
might not be so near the prisoners, and a dozen 
men stepped forward, rifle in hand, and took up a 
position twenty paces off. 

"I give you one minute," said the officer; "not 
a second longer." 

Then he rose quickly, went over to the two 
Frenchmen, took Morissot by the arm, led him a 
short distance off, and said in a low voice: 

Vol. 2—21 



318 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"Quick! the password! Your friend will know 
nothing. I will pretend to relent." 

Morissot answered not a word. 

Then the Prussian took Monsieur Sauvage aside 
in like manner, and made him the same proposal. 

Monsieur Sauvage made no reply. 

Again they stood side by side. 

The officer issued his orders ; the soldiers raised 
their rifles. Then by chance Morissot's eyes fell on 
the net full of gudgeons lying in the grass a few 
feet from him, 

A ray of sunlight made the still quivering fish 
glisten like silver. And Morissot's heart sank. De- 
spite his efforts at self-control his eyes filled with 
tears. 

"Good-by, Monsieur Sauvage," he faltered. 

"Good-by, Monsieur Morissot," replied Sauvage. 

They shook hands, trembling from head to foot 
with a dread beyond their mastery. 

The officer cried : 

"Fire!" 

The twelve shots were as one. 

Monsieur Sauvage fell forward instantaneously. 
Morissot, being the taller, swayed slightly and fell 
across his friend with face turned skyward and 
blood oozing from a rent in the breast of his coat. 

The German issued fresh orders. His men dis- 
persed, and presently returned with ropes and large 
stones, which they attached to the feet of the two 
friends; then they carried them to the river bank. 



THE FORTUNE OF WAR 319 

Mont-Valerien, its summit now enshrouded in 
smoke, still continued to thunder. 

Two soldiers took Morissot by the head and the 
feet; two others did the same with Sauvage. The 
bodies, swung lustily by strong hands, were cast to 
a distance, and, describing a curve, fell feet fore- 
most into the stream. 

The water splashed high, foamed, eddied, then 
grew calm ; tiny waves lapped the shore. 

A few streaks of blood flecked the surface of the 
river. 

The officer, calm throughout, remarked, with 
grim humor : 

"It's the fishes' turn now!" 

Then he returned to the house. 

Suddenly he caught sight of the net full of 
gudgeons, lying in the grass. He picked it up, 
examined it, smiled, and called : 

"Wilhelm!" 

A white-aproned soldier responded to the sum- 
mons, and the Prussians, tossing him the catch of 
the two murdered men, said : 

"Have these fish fried for me at once, while 
they are still alive; they'll make a tasty dish." 

Then he resumed his pipe. 



HUMBLE HAPPINESS 

IT was tea-time — the hour before the lamps were 
brought in. The villa overlooked the sea ; the 
sun had disappeared and left in its wake a 
crimson sky flecked with gold; and the Mediter- 
ranean, not a ripple disturbing its gleaming surface, 
looked like a polished and limitless sheet of metal. 

To the right, in the far distance, jagged moun- 
tain peaks reared their dusky outline against the 
tender purple of the sunset. 

The company were talking of love — that old, old 
theme — and for the hundredth time were saying 
things well known to them all. The gentle mel- 
ancholy of twilight made their words slow and soft, 
their hearts more easily moved than usual ; and the 
word "love," pronounced now in a man's firm 
voice, now in a woman's musical tones, held an un- 
wonted glamor for them all. It appeared to fill the 
little drawing-room, to flutter, birdlike, through the 
air, to hover like a spirit over their heads. 

''Can one's love last for years?" 

"Yes," affirmed some. 

320 



HUMBLE HAPPINESS 321 

"No," said others. 

Cases were quoted, examples cited ; and all the 
guests, men and women, full of recollections they 
could not reveal, which arose insistently in their 
minds, seemed profoundly moved, and spoke with 
hushed voices of that mystic, potent bond which 
unites man and woman for good or ill. 

But suddenly some one who had been gazing out 
into the distance cried : 

"Oh, look! look! What is that?" 

Above the sea a large, grayish, indeterminate 
mass rose on the horizon. 

The women stood up, and looked wonderingly at 
this unexpected object, which they never before 
had seen. Some one said : 

"That is Corsica! It is visible like that only two 
or three times in the year, under certain excep- 
tional conditions, when the air, being absolutely 
clear, does not conceal it behind those curtains of 
sea mist which usually veil the horizon." 

The Corsican mountains were vaguely distin- 
guishable; the gazers fancied they could even see 
the snow on their peaks. And all were surprised, 
moved, well-nigh alarmed, at this sudden apparition 
of a world rising, phantom-like out of the sea. 

Presently an old man who had not yet spoken 
said: 

"Stay! In that very island which appears be- 
fore us now, as if to answer our question by re- 
calling to my mind a long-vanished memory, I once 



322 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

knew a wonderful example of constant love, of an 
enduring and supremely happy love. I will tell the 
story : 

"Five years ago I traveled through Corsica. 
This semi-barbarous island is less known to us, and 
is in reality farther from us, than America ; al- 
though, as to-day, it can sometimes be seen from 
the French coast. 

''Picture to yourself a still chaotic world, a wil- 
derness of mountains separated from one another 
by narrow valleys, through which rush swirling tor- 
rents ; no plain, only immense waves of granite and 
huge undulations of the earth clothed with shrubs 
or with forests of lofty chestnut trees and pines. 
The soil is virgin, untilled, neglected, though here 
and there one comes across a village, looking like 
a pile of rocks at the summit of a hill. The island 
boasts neither agriculture, nor industry, nor art. 
Never does one see a piece of carved wood or a 
block of sculptured stone, or any testimony what- 
ever to artistic taste on the part of the aborigines. 
It is this which strikes one most in this superb 
yet ungracious land ; hereditary indifference toward 
any striving after the beautiful in form. 

"Italy, where every place, full of works of art, 
is itself a work of art ; where marble, wood, metals, 
and stones all testify to the genius of man; where 
the smallest object lying in ancient houses reveals 
a divine regard for grace of form — Italy is for us 
the well-beloved and sacred country, because she 



HUMBLE HAPPINESS Z22> 

shows us the greatness, the power, and the triumph 
of creative inteUigence. 

"And right opposite to her savage Corsica has re- 
mained what she was from the first. Her inhabi- 
tants dwell in their rough-hewn houses, indifferent 
to all that does not affect their actual existence or 
their family quarrels. And they retain both the 
faults and the virtues of primitive races. They are 
violent, vindictive, bloodthirsty; but they are also 
simple, hospitable, generous, opening their doors 
to the passer-by, and rewarding with absolute fidel- 
ity the least mark of sympathy. 

^'For a month I had been wandering in this mag- 
nificent island, with a feeling as if I had reached 
the end of the earth. No public houses, no roads. 
You reach by mule-paths those hamlets clinging to 
the mountainsides, where the roar of the torrent 
below assails the ear from morning till night. You 
knock at a door; you ask a night's shelter and 
enough food to last you till the following evening. 
And you sit down at the humble board, you sleep 
under the humble roof, and next morning you part 
from your host with a hearty handshake, when he 
has conducted you as far as the end of the village. 

"One evening, after ten hours on the road, I 
came to a little dwelling standing by itself at the 
head of a narrow valley that debouched on the sea 
three miles away. The steep mountainsides, cov- 
ered with shrubs, boulders, and lofty trees, were 
as two dark walls shutting in this cheerless ravine. 



324 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"Round the cottage were a few vines, a small 
garden, and one or two large chestnut-trees. Here 
were means of subsistence, at all events — almost 
a fortune, indeed, in this poverty-stricken land. 

"The woman who received me was old, of aus- 
tere aspect, and — wonderful to relate — very clean. 
The man, sitting on a rush-bottomed chair, rose in 
sign of welcome, and then sat down again without 
a word. 

" 'Please excuse him,' said his companion. 'He's 
eighty-two years old, and quite deaf.' 

"She spoke the French of France, to my sur- 
prise. 

" 'You do not belong to Corsica?' I asked. 

"'No,' she said; 'we are from the Continent; 
but we have lived here fifty years.' 

"I shuddered at the thought of fifty years spent 
in this God-forsaken spot, far from the haunts of 
men. An old shepherd joined us, and we all sat 
down to the single dish of which the dinner con- 
sisted — a thick soup in which potatoes, bacon, and 
cabbage had been boiled together. 

"When the brief meal was over I sat before 
the door, a prey to that mielancholy which some- 
times seizes travelers in certain lonely places or 
on certain lonely evenings. At such times one feels 
that everything is at an end — one's life, nay, the 
very universe. One gets a sudden, fearful glimpse 
of the abject misery of life; the isolation of every 
human being from his fellows; the black, hopeless 



HUMBLE HAPPINESS 325 

solitude of the heart, which, nevertheless, cheats 
itself with dreams as long as life endures. 

"The old woman joined me, and, possessed of 
that curiosity which survives in even the most pla- 
cid and resigned of mortals, said: 

" 'So you come from France?' 

" 'Yes. I am on a pleasure-trip.' 

" 'You are from Paris, perhaps?' 

" 'No; I am from Nancy.' 

"It seemed to me — but how or why I cannot tell 
— that some strange emotion worked in her, 
she repeated slowly : 

" 'You are from Nancy ?' 

"At this juncture the man, impassible like all 
deaf people, appeared in the doorway. She con- 
tinued : 

" 'Never mind him ; he can't hear.' 

"Then, after a few moments' pause: 

" 'Do you know the Nancy people?' 

" 'Yes ; nearly everybody.' 

" 'The Sainte-Allaize family?' 

" 'Yes, very well ; they are friends of my fa- 
ther's.' 

" 'What is your name?' 

"I told her. She looked at me fixedly, then 
murmured in a pensive tone, occasioned by the 
stirring of long-forgotten memories : 

" 'Yes, yes; I remember well. And what has 
become of the Brismares?' 

" 'They are all dead.' 



326 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

" *Ah ! And did you know the Sirmonts ?' 

" 'Yes ; the last of them is a general.' 

"Then she said, trembling with emotion and ap- 
parently moved by an irresistible impulse to con- 
fess, to tell all, to speak of those things which had 
hitherto remained locked in her own bosom, and 
of those people whose name affected her beyond 
words : 

" 'Yes ; Henri de Sirmont. I know him ; he is 
my brother.' 

"I raised my eyes to her, speechless with as- 
tonishment. And suddenly I remembered. 

"Long ago there had been a great scandal in 
the Sirmont family. Suzanne de Sirmont, young, 
beautiful, and rich, eloped with a non-commissioned 
officer in the regiment of hussars that her father 
commanded. 

"He was a handsome man of peasant birth, a 
man who looked well in his uniform — this soldier 
who had seduced his colonel's daughter. She had, 
no doubt, seen him, singled him out, and fallen in 
love with him, when her father's squadrons filed by. 
But how had she obtained speech with him? How 
had they managed to see each other and come 
to an understanding? No one ever knew, 

"Such a catastrophe never had been dreamed 
of. One evening she and the soldier disappeared. 
Search was made, but the pair never were discov- 
ered. No news of them was ever received, and Su- 
zanne de Sirmont was looked upon as dead. 



HUMBLE HAPPINESS 327 

"And now I had discovered her in this valley! 

"Then I asked in my turn : 

" 'Yes ; I remember. You are Mademoiselle Su- 



zanne 



"She nodded assent, and tears fell from her eyes. 
Then, pointing to the old man framed in the door- 
way, she said : 

" That is he.' 

"And I saw that she still loved him, that she 
still looked at him with the eyes of affection. 

" 'Have you been happy ?' I asked. 

" *Oh, yes/ she replied, in a voice that came 
straight from her heart ; 'very happy. He has made 
me perfectly happy. I never have had a moment's 
regret.' 

"I looked at her, astonished at this exhibition 
of the power of love. Here was a rich girl who had 
followed a mere peasant. She had become a peas- 
ant herself. She had resigned herself to a life des- 
titute of charm, of luxury, of refinement of any 
sort; she had accommodated herself to her hus- 
band's simple ways. And she still loved him. She 
had become a woman of the people, wearing a cap 
and a skirt of coarse stuff. She ate from an 
earthenware plate, on a rough wooden table, sit- 
ting on a rush-bottomed chair. Her dinner con- 
sisted of cabbage and potato soup. She lay on a 
hard mattress at his side. 

"And she never had thought of anything but 
him ! She had not regretted her jewels, her clothes. 



328 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

all the elegances of her toilet, the softness of her 
chairs, the perfumed warmth of her curtained bou- 
doir, the downy softness of her bed. She never had 
needed aught but himself ; if he were there, she de- 
sired nothing more. 

"When quite young she had forsaken her life, 
the world, and all those who had brought her up 
and loved her. She had come, alone with him, to 
this desolate valley. And he had been everything 
to her — her hopes, her dreams, her desires. He 
had filled her whole existence with contentment. 
She could not have been happier. 

"And all night long, listening to the harsh breath- 
ing of the old soldier, extended on his pallet be- 
side her who had followed him so far, I thought of 
their story, strange in its simplicity; of their hap- 
piness, so complete, yet made up of so little." 

The narrator was silent. A woman said: 

"But she had too lowly an ideal. Her needs 
were too simple, her instincts too primitive. She 
must have been a weak sort of creature." 

Another said slowly: 

"What matter? She was happy." 

And on the far-off horizon Corsica melted into 
the gray night, was slowly swallowed up by the sea, 
withdrew that shadowy outline which had risen as 
if to tell the story of the humble lovers whom its 
rugged shores had sheltered. 



THE MYSTERIOUS GROOM 

ONE day an Austrian banker discovered that a 
serious robbery had occurred in his house. 
Jewels, a valuable watch set with diamonds, 
his wife's miniature in a frame set with brilliants, 
and a large sum in money, the whole value of which 
amounted to a hundred and fifty thousand florins, 
had been stolen from his room. He went to the 
chief of police to give notice of the robbery, but 
at the same time begged as a special favor that 
the investigation might be carried on as quietly and 
considerately as possible, as he declared that he had 
not the slightest ground for suspecting anybody in 
particular, and did not wish any innocent person to 
be accused. 

"First, give me the names of all the persons who 
regularly go into your bedroom,'' the chief said. 

"Nobody except my wife, my children, and Jo- 
seph, my valet ; a man for whom I would answer as 
I would for myself." 

"Then you think him absolutely incapable of 
committing such a deed?" 

"I certainly do," replied the banker. 

329 



330 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"Very well ; then can you remember whether on 
the day on which you first missed the articles that 
have been stolen, or on any days immediately pre- 
ceding it, anybody who was not a member of your 
household happened by chance to go to your bed- 
room ?" 

The banker reflected a moment and then said, 
with some hesitation : 

"Nobody, absolutely nobody." 

But the experienced official was struck by the 
banker's slight embarrassment and momentary flush, 
so he took his hand, and looking him straight in 
the face, he said : 

"You are not quite frank with me; some one 
was with you, and you wish to conceal the fact 
from me. You must tell me everything." 

"No, no; indeed no one was there." 

"Then at present there is only one person on 
whom any suspicion can rest — and that is your 
valet." 

"I will vouch for his honesty," the banker re- 
plied immediately. 

"You may be mistaken, and I shall be compelled 
to question the man." 

"May I beg you to do it with every possible con- 
sideration?" 

"You may rely upon me for that." 

An hour later the banker's valet was in the 
chief's private room. The official first scrutinized 
his man very closely, and then decided that a face 



THE MYSTERIOUS GROOM 331 

so honest and unembarrassed, with such quiet, 
steady eyes, could not possibly belong to a crim- 
inal. 

"Do you know why I have sent for you?" he 
asked. 

"No, Monsieur." 

"A serious burglary has been committed in your 
master's house," the chief continued, "in his bed- 
room. Do you suspect anybody? Who has been 
in the room within the last few days ?" 

"No one but myself, except my master's fam- 
ily." 

"Do you not see, my good fellow, that by saying 
this you throw suspicion on yourself?" 

"Surely, Monsieur," the valet exclaimed, "you 
do not believe " 

"I must not believe anything; my duty is merely 
to investigate and to follow up any traces that I 
may discover," was the reply. "If you have been 
the only person to go into the room within the last 
few days I must hold you responsible." 

"My master knows me " 

The chief of police shrugged his shoulders. 
"Your master has vouched for your honesty, but 
that is not enough for me. You are the only per- 
son on whom, at present, any suspicion rests, and 
therefore — sorry as I ain to do so — I must have 
you arrested." 

"If that is so," the man said, after some hesita- 
tion, "I prefer to speak the truth, for my good 



\ 



332 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

name is worth more to me than my situation 
Some one was in my master's apartments yester- 
day." 

"And this some one was " 

"A lady." 

"A lady of his acquaintance?" 

The valet did not answer for some time. 

"It must come out," he said finally. "My mas- 
ter has met a woman — you understand, Monsieur, 
a pretty, blond woman; he seems to be very fond 
of her, and goes to see her, but secretly, of course, 
for if my mistress were to find it out there would 
be a terrible scene. This person was in the house 
yesterday." 

"Were they alone?" 

"I showed her in myself, and she was in the bed- 
room. I had to call my master out at once, as his 
confidential clerk wished to speak to him, and so 
she was in the room alone for about a quarter of an 
hour." 

"What is her name?" 

"Cecilia K ; she is a Hungarian." At the 

same time the valet gave him her address. 

Then the chief of police sent for the banker, 
who, on being brought face-to-face with his valet, 
was obliged to acknowledge the truth of the facts 
the latter had alleged, painful as it was for him 
to do so; whereupon orders were given to take 
Cecilia K into custody. 

In less than half an hour, however, the police offi- 



THE MYSTERIOUS GROOM 333 

cer who had been despatched for that purpose re- 
turned and said that she had left her apartments, 
and most likely the capital also, on the previous 
evening. The unfortunate banker was almost in 
despair. Not only had he been robbed of a hundred 
and fifty thousand florins, but at the same time he 
had lost the beautiful woman. He could not grasp 
the idea that a woman whom he had surrounded 
with Oriental luxury, whose most freakish whims 
he had gratified, and whose tyranny he had borne 
so patiently, could have deceived him so shame- 
fully; and now he had a quarrel with his wife and 
an end of all domestic peace into the bargain. 

The only thing the police could do was to send 
detectives after the lady, who had denounced her- 
self by her flight, but it was of no use. In vain 
did the banker, in whose heart hatred and thirst for 
revenge had taken the place of love, implore the 
chief of police to employ every means to bring the 
beautiful criminal to justice, and in vain did he 
undertake to be responsible for all the costs of her 
prosecution, no matter how heavy they might be. 
Special police officers were assigned to try to dis- 
cover her, but Cecilia K was so inconsiderate 

as not to allow herself to be caught. 

Three years passed, and the unpleasant story 
appeared to have been forgotten. The banker had 
obtained his wife's pardon, and the police did not 
appear to trouble themselves about the beautiful 
Hungarian any more. 

Vol. 2—22 



334 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The scene now changes to London. A wealthy 
lady who created a great sensation in society, and 
who made many conquests both by her beauty and 
her behavior, was in need of a groom. Among the 
many applicants for the situation was a young man 
whose good looks and manners gave the impression 
that he must have been very well educated. This 
was a recommendation in the eyes of the lady's 
maid, and she took him immediately to her mis- 
tress' boudoir. When he entered he saw a beauti- 
ful, voluptuous-looking woman, twenty-five years 
of age at most, with large, bright eyes and blue- 
black hair, which seemed to increase the brilliance 
of her fair complexion. She was lying on a sofa. 
She looked at the young man, who had thick black 
hair and who lowered his glowing black eyes be- 
neath her searching gaze, with evident satisfaction, 
and she seemed particularly taken with his slender, 
athletic build, and said half lazily and half proudly: 

"What is your name?" 

"Lajos Mariassi," 

"A Hungarian?" 

A strange look came into her eyes. 

"Yes." 

"How did you come here?" 

"I am one of the many emigrants who have for- 
feited their country and their lives ; and I, who 
come of a good family, and was an officer of the 
Honveds, must now go into service, and thank God 
if I find a mistress who is at the same time beauti- 
ful and an aristocrat like yourself, Madame." 



THE MYSTERIOUS GROOM 335 

Mademoiselle Zoe — that was the lovely woman's 
name — smiled, showing two rows of pearly teeth. 

"I like your appearance," she said, "and I feel 
inclined to take you into my service, if you are sat- 
isfied with my terms." 

"A lady's whim," her maid said to herself, when 
she noticed the glances that Mademoiselle Zoe gave 
her man-servant, "which will soon pass away." But 
that experienced person was mistaken this time. 

Zoe was really in love, and the respect with which 
Lajos treated her put her into a very bad temper. 
One evening, when she intended to go to the Italian 
opera, she countermanded her carriage and refused 
to see a certain noble admirer, who was ready to 
throw himself at her feet, and she ordered her 
groom to be sent up to her. 

"Lajos," she began, "I am not at all satisfied 
with you." 

"Why, Madame?" 

" I do not wish to have you about me any longer ; 
here are your wages for three months. Leave the 
house immediately." And she began to walk up and 
down the room impatiently. 

"I will obey you, Madame," the groom replied, 
"but I shall not take my wages." 

"Why not?" she asked hastily. 

"Because then I should be under your authority 
for three months," Lajos said, "and I intend to be 
free, this very moment, so that I may be able to tell 
you that I entered your service not for the sake of 



336 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

your money, but because I love and adore you as 
a beautiful woman." 

"You love me!" Zoe exclaimed. "Why did you 
not tell me sooner? I merely wished to banish you 
from my presence, because I love you and thought 
that you did not love me. But you shall smart for 
having tormented me so. Come to my feet imme- 
diately !" 

The groom knelt before the lovely woman, and 
from that moment Lajos became her favorite. Of 
course he was not allowed to be jealous, as the 
young lord was still her official lover, and had the 
pleasure of paying her bills, and besides, there was 
a whole army of so-called "good friends," who 
were fortunate enough to obtain a smile now and 
then, and who, in return, had permission to pre- 
sent her with rare flowers, a parrot, or diamonds. 

The more intimate Zoe became with Lajos, the 
more uncomfortable she felt when he looked at her, 
as he frequently did, with undisguised contempt. 
She was wholly under his influence and was afraid 
of him, and one day, while he was playing with her 
dark curls, he said jeeringly : 

"It is usually said that contrasts attract each 
other, and yet you are as dark as I am." 

She smiled and suddenly tore off a wig of black 
curls, and lo! the most charming, fair-haired 
woman was sitting beside Lajos, who looked at 
her attentively, but without any surprise. 

He left the house about midnight in order to 



THE MYSTERIOUS GROOM 337 

look after the horses, as he said, and she retired. 
In two hours' time she was roused from her slum- 
bers and saw a pohce inspector and two constables 
beside her bed, 

"Whom do you want?" she cried. 

"Cecilia K " 

"I am Mademoiselle Zoe." 

"Oh, I know you!" the inspector said, with a 
smile; "be kind enough to take off your dark wig, 

and you will be Cecilia K . I arrest you in the 

name of the law." 

"Good heavens!" she stammered. "Lajos has 
betrayed me." 

"You are mistaken, Madame," the inspector re- 
plied; "he has merely done his duty." 

"What? Lajos — my adorer?" 

"No — Lajos, the detective." 

Cecilia rose from the bed, and the next moment 
sank fainting to the floor. 



THE OPEN DOOR 

THE question of complaisant husbands," said 
Karl Massouligny, "is a difficult one. I 
have seen many kinds, and yet I am unable 
to give an opinion about any of them. I have often 
tried to determine whether they are blind, weak, or 
clairvoyant. I believe there are some that belong to 
each of these categories. 

" We will pass quickly over the blind ones. They 
cannot correctly be called complaisant, since they do 
not know, but they are good creatures who cannot 
see farther than their noses. It is a curious and in- 
teresting thing to notice the ease with which men 
and women can be deceived. We are taken in by 
the slightest trick of those who surround us — of 
our children, our friends, our servants, our trades- 
people. Humanity is credulous, and in order to 
discover deceit in others, we do not display one 
tenth of the finesse we use when we, in our turn, 
wish to deceive some one else. 

"The clairvoyant husbands may be divided into 
three classes : those who have some interest, pe- 
cuniary, ambitious or otherwise, in their wives' hav- 

338 



THE OPEN DOOR 339 

I 
ing a lover, or lovers. These ask only to preserve 
appearances as well as possible, and they are satie- 
fied. 

"Next come those who get angry. What a fine 
novel one could write about them ! 

"Finally come the weak ones — those who are 
afraid of scandal. 

"There are also those who are powerless, or, 
rather, bored, who escape from conjugal duties 
from fear of ataxia or apoplexy, and who are satis- 
fied to see a friend take these risks. 

"But I have met a husband of a rare species, 
who guarded against the common accident in a 
strange and witty manner. In Paris I had made 
the acquaintance of an elegant, fashionable couple. 
The woman, brilliant, tall, slender, much courted, 
was supposed to have had many adventures. She 
pleased me with her wit, and I believe that I 
pleased her also. I courted her — a trial courtship 
to which she answered with evident provocations. 
Soon we arrived at the stage of tender glances, 
pressures of hands, all the little gallantries which 
precede the grand attack. 

"Nevertheless, I hesitated. I believe that, as a 
rule, the greater number of society intrigues, how- 
ever short they may be, are not worth the trouble 
they give us and the difficulties that may arise. I 
therefore mentally compared the advantages and 
disadvantages which I might expect, and thought 
I noticed that the husband suspected me. 



340 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"One evening at a ball, as I was saying tender 
things to the young woman in a little parlor leading 
from the hall where the dancing was going on, 
I noticed in a mirror the reflection of some one 
who was watching us. It was the husband. Our 
eyes met, and I saw him turn his head and walk 
away, 

" 'Your husband is spying on us,' I murmured. 

"She seemed dumbfounded, and repeated: 'My 
husband ?' 

" 'Yes, he has been watching us for some time.' 

" 'Nonsense! Are you sure?' 'Quite sure.' 

" 'How strange ! He is usually very pleasant 
with all my friends.' 

" 'Perhaps he has guessed that I love you !' 

" 'Nonsense ! You are not the first to pay atten- 
tion to me. Every woman who is a little in view 
drags behind her a herd of admirers.' 

" 'Yes. But I love you deeply.' 

" 'Admitting that that is true, does a husband 
ever guess those things?' 

" 'Then he is not jealous?' 

" 'No— no!' 

" She thought for an instant, and then continued : 
'No. I do not think that I ever noticed any jeal- 
ousy on his part.' 

" 'Has he never — watched you?' 

" 'No. As I said, he is always agreeable to my 
friends.' 

"From that day my courting became much more 



THE OPEN DOOR 341 

assiduous. The woman did not please me any more 
than before, but the probable jealousy of her hus- 
band tempted me greatly. 

"As for her, I judged her coolly and clearly. 
She had a certain worldly charm, due to a quick, 
gay, amiable, and superficial mind, but no real, deep 
attraction. She was a little nervous, but quite 
elegant. How can I explain myself? She was 
. . . a decoration, but did not make a home. 

"One day, after I had taken dinner with her, her 
husband said to me, just as I was leaving: 'My 
dear friend' (he now called me 'friend'), 'we soon 
leave for the country. It is a great pleasure for my 
wife and me to receive the friends we like. We 
should like to have you spend a month with us. 
It would be very kind of you to do so.' 

"I was surprised, but I accepted. 

"A month later I arrived at their estate of Vert- 
cresson, in Touraine. They were waiting for me 
at the station, five miles from the chateau. There 
were three of them, she, the husband, and a gentle- 
man unknown to me, the Comte de Morterade, to 
whom I was introduced. He appeared to be de- 
lighted to make my acqauintance, and the strangest 
ideas passed through my mind while we trotted 
along the beautiful road between two hedges. I was 
saying to myself: 'What can this mean? Here 
is a husband who cannot doubt that his wife and 
I are on more than friendly terms, and yet he in- 
vites me to his house, receives me like an old 



342 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

friend, and seems to say: "Proceed, my friend, 
the way is clear !" 

" 'Then I am introduced to a very pleasant gen- 
tleman, who seems already to have settled down in 
the house, and . . . and who is perhaps trying 
to escape from it, and who seems as pleased at my 
arrival as the husband himself. 

" 'Is he some former lover who wishes to retire? 
Ooe might think so. But, then, would these two 
men tacitly have come to one of those infamous lit- 
tle agreements so common in society? It is pro- 
posed to me that I should quietly enter into the 
association and take up the continuation of it. All 
hands and arms are held out to me. All doors and 
hearts are open to me. 

" 'And what about her ? An enigma. She can- 
not be ignorant of everything. However? — well 
— that is the point. I understand nothing.' 

"The dinner was very gay and cordial. On leav- 
ing the table the husband and his friend began 
to play cards, while I went out on the porch to look 
at the moonlight with Madame. She seemed to be 
greatly moved by nature, and I judged that the mo- 
ment for my happiness was near. That evening she 
was really delightful. The country had seemed to 
make her more tender. Her long, slender waist 
looked charming on this stone porch beside a large 
vase in which some flowers were growing. I felt 
like leading her out under the trees, throwing my- 
self at her feet, and speaking to her words of love. 

"Her husband's voice called: 'Louise?' 



THE OPEN DOOR 343 

" 'Yes, dear.' 

" 'You are forgetting the tea.' 

" *I will ring for it, my dear,' 

"We returned to the house, and «he served us 
with tea. When the two men had finished playing 
cards, they were visibly tired. I had to go to my 
room. I did not go to sleep till late, and then I 
slept badly. 

"An excursion was decided upon for the follow- 
ing afternoon, and we went in an open carriage to 
visit some ruins. She and I were in the back of the 
vehicle and the two men were opposite us, riding 
backward. The conversation was sympathetic and 
agreeable. I am an orphan, and it seemed to me as 
if I had just found my family, I felt so much at 
home with them. 

"Suddenly, as .she had stretched out one foot 
between her husband's feet, he murmured reproach- 
fully : 'Louise, please don't wear out your old shoes 
yourself. There is no reason for being neater in 
Paris than in the country.' 

" I glanced down. She was indeed wearing much 
worn shoes, and I noticed that her stockings were 
not pulled up snugly. 

"She blushed and hid her foot under her skirt. 
The friend was looking off in the distance, with 
an indifferent and unconcerned look. 

"The husband offered me a cigar, which I ac- 
cepted. For a few days it was impossible for me to 
be alone with her for two minutes ; he was with us 
everywhere. He was most cordial to me. 



344 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

''One morning! he came to get me to take a walk 
before breakfast, and the conversation happened to 
turn to marriage. I spoke a Httle about soHtude, 
and about how charming Hfe may be made by a 
woman. Suddenly he interrupted me, saying: 'My 
friend, don't talk of things you know nothing 
about. A woman who has no more reason to love 
you, will not love you very long. All the 
little coquetries that make them so exquisite when 
they do not definitely belong to us cease as soon as 
they become ours. And then the respectable women 
— that is to say, our wives — are — are not — quite — 
they do not understand their business as wives. 
Do you understand?' 

"He said no more, and 1" could not guess his 
thoughts. 

"Two days after this conversation he called me 
to his room quite early in order to show me a col- 
lection of engravings. I sat in an easy-chair oppo- 
site the large double door that separated his apart- 
ment from his wife's, and behind this door I heard 
some one walking and moving, and I was thinking 
very little of the engravings, although I kept ex- 
claiming: 'Oh, charming! delightful! exquisite!' 

" Suddenly he said : *I have a beautiful specimen 
in the next room. I will get it.' 

"He went to the door quickly, and both sides 
opened as if for a theatrical effect. 

"In a large room, all in disorder, in the midst 
of skirts, collars, and waists lying around on the 



THE OPEN DOOR 345 

floor, stood a tall, thin creature. The lower part of 
her body was covered with an old, worn-out silk 
petticoat, which hung limply on her shapeless form, 
and she was standing in front of a mirror brushing 
some short, sparse blond hairs. Her elbows 
formed two sharp angles, and as she turned around 
in astonishment I saw under a common cotton 
chemise a regular boneyard of ribs, which in public 
were always hidden from the public gaze by well- 
arranged pads. 

"The husband uttered a natural cry and came 
back, closing the doors and saying: 'Dear me! how 
stupid I am ! Oh, how thoughtless ! My wife 
never will forgive me for that !' 

"I felt like thanking him. I departed three days 
later, after cordially shaking hands with the two 
men and kissing the lady's fingers; she bade me 
a cold good-by." 

Karl Massouligny was silent. Some one asked : 
"But what was the friend?" 

"I don't know. But he looked greatly distressed 
to see me leaving so soon !" 



WIFE AND MISTRESS 

IT was not only her long, silky curls, which cov- 
ered her small, fairy-like head like a golden 
halo, nor her beautiful complexion, nor her 
mouth, which was like a delicate shell; nor was 
it her supreme innocence, shown by her sudden 
blushes and her somewhat awkward movements; 
nor was it her ingenuous questions, which had be- 
sieged and conquered Georges d'Hardermes' heart. 
He had a peculiar disposition, and any suspicion of 
a bond frightened him and put him to flight imme- 
diately. His unstable heart was ready to yield to 
any temptation, was incapable of any lasting attach- 
ment, and a succession of women had left no more 
impression on it than on the sea-sands that a/e 
constantly swept by the waves. 

His was not the dream of a life of affection, of 
peace, the need of loving and of being loved, which 
a fast man so often feels between thirty and forty. 
His insurmountable weariness of that circle of 
pleasure in which he had moved, like a horse in a 
circus, the voids in his existence caused by the mar- 
riage of his bachelor friends, which in his selfish- 

L.-10 



WIFE AND MISTRESS 347 

ness he looked upon as desertion, although he en- 
vied them, had at last induced him to listen to the 
prayers and advice of his old mother, and to marry 
Mademoiselle Suzanne de Gouvres, But the vision 
that he had had when he saw her playing with lit- 
tle children, covering them with kisses, and looking 
at them with ecstasy in her limpid eyes, and in hear- 
ing her talk of the pleasures and the anguish that 
those must feel who are mothers in the fullest sense 
of the word — the vision of a happy home, where a 
man feels that he is living again in others, of that 
home which is full of laughter and of song, and 
seems as if it were full of birds — was stronger 
than all. 

As a matter of fact, he loved children as some 
men love animals, and he was interested in them as 
in some delightful spectacle ; they attracted him. 

He was very gentle, kind, and thoughtful with 
them, invented games for them, took them on his 
knees, was never tired of listening to their chatter, 
or of watching the development of their instincts, 
of their intellect, and of their little, delicate souls. 

He used to go and sit in the Pare Monceau, and 
in the squares, to watch them playing and romping 
and prattling round him, and one day, as a joke, 
somebody, a jealous sweetheart, or some friends in 
joke, had sent him a splendid wet-nurse's cap, with 
long pink ribbons. 

At first, he was under the influence of tlie charm 
that springs from the beginning of an intimacy, 



348 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

from the first kisses, and devoted himself altogether 
to that amorous education which revealed a new life 
to him, as it were, and enchanted him. 

He thought of nothing but of increasing the 
ardent love that his wife bestowed on him, and 
lived in a state of perpetual adoration, Suzanne's 
feelings, the metamorphosis of that virginal heart, 
which was beginning to glow with love, and which 
vibrated her passion, her modesty, her sensations, 
were all delicious surprises to him. 

He felt that feverish pleasure of a traveler who 
has discovered some marvelous Eden and loses his 
head over it, and, at times, with a long, affectionate 
and proud look at her, which grew even warmer on 
looking into Suzanne's limpid blue eyes, he would 
put his arms round 'her waist, and pressing her to 
him so strongly that it hurt the young woman, he 
would exclaim: 

"Oh! I am quite sure that nowhere on earth 
are there two persons who love each other as we 
do, and w'ho are as happy as you and I are, my dar- 
ling!" 

Months of uninterrupted possession and enchant- 
ment succeeded each other without Georges alter- 
ing, and without any lassitude mingling w'ith the 
ardor of their love, or the fire of their affection dy- 
ing out. 

Then, however, suddenly he ceased to be happy, 
and, in spite of all his efforts to hide his invincible 
lowness of spirits, he became another man, restless. 



WIFE AND MISTRESS 349 

being irritated at nothing, morose, and bored at 
everything and everywhere; whimsical, and never 
knowing what he wanted. 

But certainly something was now poisoning that 
affection which formerly had been his delight, 
which was coming more and more between him and 
his wife every day, and was giving him a distaste 
for home. 

By degrees, that vague suffering assumed a defi- 
nite shape in his heart, got implanted and fixed 
there, like a nail. He had not attained his object, 
and he felt the weight of chains, understood that he 
never could get used to such an existence, that he 
could not love a woman who seemed incapable of 
becoming a mother, w-ho lowered herself to the part 
of a lawful mistress, and who was not faithful to 
him. 

Alas! To awake from such a dream, to say to 
himself that he was reduced to envying the good 
fortune of others, that he should never cover a little, 
curly, smiling head with kisses, where some striking 
likeness, some undecided gleams of growing intel- 
lect, fill a man with joy, but that he would be 
obliged to take the remainder of his journey in soli- 
tude, heartbroken, with nothing but old age around 
him ; that no branch would again spring from the 
family tree, and that on his death-bed he should not 
have that last consolation of embracing his dear 
ones, for whom he struggled and made so many 
sacrifices, and who were sobbing with grief, but 

Vol. 2—23 



350 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

that soon he should be the prey of indifferent and 
greedy heirs, who were discounting his approaching 
death like some valuable security ! 

Georges had not told Suzanne the feelings that 
were tormenting him, and took care that she should 
not see his state of unhappiness, and he did not 
worry her with trying questions that only end in 
a violent and distressing scene. 

But she was too much of a woman, and she loved 
her husband too much, not to guess what was mak- 
ing him so gloomy and imperilling their love. 

And every month came a fresh disappointment, 
and hope was again deferred. She, however, per- 
sisted in believing that their wish would be granted, 
and grew ill with this painful waiting, and refused 
to believe that she should never be a mother. 

She would have looked upon it as a humiliation 
either to consult a medical man or to make a pil- 
grimage to some shrine, as so many women did, in 
their despair, and her proud, loyal, and loving na- 
ture at last rebelled against that hostility which 
showed itself in the angry outbursts, the painful 
silence, and the haughty coldness of the man who 
by a little kindness could have done anything he 
liked with her. 

With death in her soul, she had a presentiment of 
the way of the cross which is an end of love, of all 
the bitterness which sooner or later would end in 
terrible quarrels and in words that would put an 
impassable barrier between them. 



WIFE AND MISTRESS 351 

At last, one evening, when Georges d'Hardermes 
had lost his temper, had wounded her by equivocal 
words and bad jokes, Suzanne, who was very pale, 
and who was clutching the arms of her easy-chair 
convulsively, interrupted him with the accents of 
farewell in her melancholy voice : 

"As you do not love me any more, why not tell 
me so at once, instead of wounding me like this by 
small, traitorous blows, and, above all, why con- 
tinue to live together? You want your liberty, 
and I will give it you ; you have your fortune, and I 
have mine. Let us separate without a scandal and 
without a lawsuit, so that, at least, a little friend- 
ship may survive our love. I shall leave Paris 
and live in the country with my mother. God is 
my witness^ however, that I still love you. my poor 
Georges, as much as ever, and that I shall remain 
your wife, whether I am with you or separated 
from you!" 

Georges hesitated for a few moments before re- 
plying, with an uneasy, sad look on his face, and 
then said, turning away his head : 

"Yes, perhaps it will be best for both of us!" 

They voluntarily broke their marriage contract, 
as she had heroically volunteered to do. She kept 
her resolution, exiled herself, buried herself in ob- 
scurity, accepted the trial with calm fortitude, and 
was as resigned as only faithful and devoted souls 
can be. 

They wrote to each other, and she deluded her- 



352 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

self, pursued the chimera that Georges would re- 
turn to her, would call her back to his side, would 
escape from his former associates, would under- 
stand of what deep love he had voluntarily deprived 
himself, and would love her again as he had for- 
merly loved her; and she resisted all the entreaties 
and the advice of her friends to cut such a false 
position short, and to institute a suit for divorce 
against her husband, as the issue would be certain. 

He, at the end of a few months of solitude, of 
evanescent love affairs, when to beguile his loneli- 
ness a man passes from the arms of one woman to 
those of another, had set up a new home, and had 
tied himself to a woman whom he had accidentally 
met at a party of friends, and who had managed to 
please him and to amuse him. 

His deserted wife was naturally not left in ig- 
norance of the fact, and stifling her jealousy and 
her grief, she put on a smile, and thought that it 
would be the same with this one as it had been 
with all his other ephemeral mistresses, whom her 
husband had successively got rid of. 

Was not that, after all, the best thing to bring 
about the issue which she longed and hoped for? 
Would not that doubtful passion, that close inti- 
macy, certainly make Monsieur d'Hardermes com- 
pare the woman he possessed with the woman he 
had formerly had, and cause him to invoke that 
lost paradise and that heart full of forgiveness, of 
love and of goodness which had not forgotten him, 
but which would respond to his first appeal? 



WIFE AND MISTRESS 353 

And that confidence of hers in a happier future, 
which neither all the proofs of that connection in 
which Monsieur d'Hardermes was becoming more 
and more involved, and which her friends so kindly 
furnished her with, nor the disdainful silence with 
which he treated all her gentle, indulgent letters 
could shake, had something touching, angelic in it, 
and reminded those who knew her well of certain 
passages in the Lives of the Saints. 

At last, however, the sympathy of those who 
had so often tried to save the young woman, to 
cure her, and to open her eyes, became exhausted, 
and, left to herself, Suzanne proudly continued her 
dream, and absorbed herself in it. 

Two long years had passed since she had lived 
with Monsieur d'Hardermes, and since he had put 
that hateful mistress in her place. She had lost 
all trace of them, knew nothing about him, and, in 
spite of everything, did not despair of seeing him 
again, and regaining her hold over him, who could 
tell when or by what miracle, but surely before 
those eyes which he had so loved were tired of shed- 
ding tears, and her fair hair, which he had so often 
covered with kisses, had grown white. 

And the arrival of the postman every morning 
and evening made her start and shiver with nerv- 
ousness. 

One day, when she was going to Paris, Madame 
d'Hardermes found herself alone in the ladies' car- 
riage, which she had entered in a hurry, with a peas- 



354 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

ant woman in her Sunday best, who had on her lap 
a child with pretty pink cheeks and rosy lips, like 
the dimpled cherubs that one sees in pictures of 
the Assumption of the Virgin. 

The nurse said affectionate words to the child in 
a coaxing voice, wrapped it up in the folds of her 
large cloak, sometimes gave it a noisy, hearty kiss, 
and it beat the air with its little hands, and crowed 
and laughed with such pretty, attractive, babyish 
movements that Suzanne could not help exclaim- 
ing: "Oh! the pretty little thing!" and taking it 
into her arms. 

At first the child was surprised at the strange 
face, and for a moment seemed as if it were going 
to cry ; but it became reassured immediately, smiled 
at the stranger who looked at it so kindly, inhaled 
the delicate scent of the iris in the bodice of her 
dress, with dilated nostrils, and cuddled up against 
her. 

The two women began to talk, and without 
knowing why, Madame d'Hardermes questioned the 
nurse, asked her where she came from, and where 
she was taking the little thing. 

The other, rather flattered that Suzanne admired 
the child and took an interest in it, replied, some- 
what vaingloriously, that she lived at Bois-le-Roy, 
and that her husband was a wagoner. 

The child had been intrusted to their care by some 
people in Paris, who appeared very happy and ex- 
tremely well off. And the nurse added in a drawl- 
ing voice: 



i 



WIFE AND MISTRESS 355 

"Perhaps, Madame, you know my master and 
mistress, Monsieur and Madame d'Hardermes?" 

Suzanne started with surprise and grief, and 
grew as pale as if all her blood were streaming 
from some wound, and thinking that she had not 
heard correctly, with a fixed look and trembling lips, 
she said, slowly, as if every word hurt her throat: 

"You said, Monsieur and Madame d'Har- 
dermes?" 

"Yes; do you know them?" 

"I, yes — formerly — but it was a long time ago." 

She could scarcely speak, and was as pale as 
death ; she hardly knew what she was saying, with 
her eyes on this pretty child, of which Georges 
must be so fond. 

She saw them, as if in a window that had sud- 
denly been opened, where everything had been 
dark before, with their arms round each other, and 
radiant with happiness, with that fair head, that 
divine dawn, the living, smiling proof of their love, 
between them. 

They would never leave each other ; they were 
already almost as good as married, and were rob- 
bing her of the name which she had, defended and 
guarded as a sacred deposit. 

She never could break such bonds. It was a 
shipwreck where nothing could survive, and where 
the waves did not even drift some shapeless waif 
and stray ashore. 

And great tears rolled down her cheeks, one by 
one, and wetted her veil. 



356 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

The train stopped at the station, and the nurse 
scarcely liked to ask Suzanne for the child, who 
was holding it against her heaving bosom, and kiss- 
ing it as if she intended to smcther it, and she said: 

"I suppose the baby reminds you of one you have 
lost, my poor, dear lady, but the loss can be re- 
paired at your age, surely ; a second is as good as a 
first, and if one does not do one's self justice " 

Madame d'Hardermes returned the child to her, 
hurried out straight ahead of her, like a hunted 
animal, and threw herself into the first cab that she 
saw. 

She sued for a divorce, and obtained it. 



THE FATHERS 

I HAVE a friend whose name is Jean de Valnoix, 
and I visit him from time to time. He Hves 
in a little cottage in the woods on the banks of 
a river. He retired from Paris after leading a gay 
life for fifteen years. Suddenly he felt that he had 
had enough of pleasures, dinners, men, women, 
cards, everything; and he went to live in this little 
place, where he had been born. 

Two or three of us who are his friends, go, from 
time to time, to spend a few weeks with him. He 
is certainly delighted to see us when we arrive, 
and glad to be alone again when we leave. 

I went to visit him last week, and he received me 
with open arms. We spent hours at a time to- 
gether, but sometimes we were alone. Usually he 
reads and I work during the daytime, and every 
evening we talk until midnight. 

Last Tuesday, after a very hot day, toward nine 
o'clock in the evening, we were sitting by the river 
and watching the water flow at our feet; we were 
exchanging very vague ideas about the stars that 
appeared to be bathing in the current and seemed 

357 



358 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

to swim along ahead of us. Our ideas were vague, 
confused, and brief, for our minds are somewhat 
limited, weak and powerless. I was expatiating on 
the so-called sun, which sets in the Great Bear. 
One can see it only on very clear nights, it is so 
pale. When the sky is the least bit clouded it dis- 
appears. We were thinking of the creatures that 
people these worlds, of their possible forms, of 
their unthinkable faculties and unknown organs, of 
the animals and plants of every kind, of many 
things that man's dreams can barely touch. 

Suddenly a voice called from the distance : 
"Monsieur, Monsieur!" 

"Here I am, Baptiste," Jean answered. 

When the servant had found us he announced: 
"Monsieur's gypsy has come." 

My friend burst out laughing, a thing which he 
rarely does, then he asked: "Is to-day the nine- 
teenth of July?" 

"Yes, Monsieur." 

"Very well. Tell her to wait for me. Give her 
some supper. I'll see her in ten minutes." 

When the man had disappeared my friend took 
me by the arm, saying: "Let us walk along slowly, 
while I tell you this story. 

"Seven years ago, when I arrived here, I went 
out one evening to take a walk in the forest. It 
was a beautiful day, like to-day, and I was walking 
along slowly under the great trees, looking at the 
stars through the leaves, enjoying the quiet rest- 
fulness of night and the forest. 



THE FATHERS 359 

"I had just left Paris forever. I was tired — 
more disgusted than I can say by all the foolish, 
vile, and nasty things which I had seen and in 
which I had participated for fifteen years. 

"I walked a long distance in this deep forest, 
following a path which leads to the village of Crou- 
zille, about eight miles from here. 

"Suddenly my dog, a great St. Bernard, which 
never left me, stopped short and began to growl. I 
thought that perhaps a fox, a wolf, or a boar might 
be in the neighborhood; I advanced softly on tip- 
toe, in order to make no noise, but suddenly I heard 
mournful, human cries, piercing yet muffled. I 
thought that surely someone was committing mur- 
der, and I rushed forward, taking a tight grip on 
my heavy oak cane, which was indeed a club. 

"I drew nearer to the moans, which now became 
more distinct, but still were strangely muffled. One 
might have thought that they were coming from 
some house, perhaps from the hut of a charcoal 
burner. Three feet ahead of me Bock was running, 
stopping, barking, starting again, highly excited, 
and always growling. Suddenly another dog, a big 
black one with snapping eyes, barred our progress. 
I could clearly see his white fangs, which seemed 
to be shining in his mouth. 

"I ran toward him with uplifted cane, but Bock 
had already jumped, and the two beasts were roll- 
ing around the ground with their teeth buried in 
each other. I went past them and almost bumped 



360 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

into a horse lying in the road. As I stopped, in 
surprise, to examine the animal, I saw in front of 
me a wagon, or, rather a rolling house, such as are 
inhabited by gypsies and the traveling merchants 
who go from fair to fair. 

''The cries were coming from there, frightful 
and continuous. As the door opened from the other 
side I turned around this vehicle and rushed up 
the three wooden steps, ready to jump on the male- 
factor. 

"What I saw seemed so strange to me that I 
could at first understand nothing. A man was 
kneeling, and seemed to be praying, while in the 
bed something impossible to recognize, a half- 
naked creature, whose face I could not see, was 
moving, twisting about, and howling. It was a 
woman in labor. 

"As soon as I understood the kind of accident 
that was the cause of these cries, I made my pres- 
ence known, and the man, wild with grief, begged 
me to save him, to save her, promising to me an 
unbelievable thankfulness. I never had seen a 
birth ; I never had helped a female creature, woman, 
dog, or cat, in such a condition, and I said so as I 
foolishly watched this thing screaming so in the 
bed. 

"Then I gathered my wits again, and I asked 
the grief-stricken man why he did not go to the 
next village. He said that his horse had stepped 
into a rut and had broken part of his leg. 



THE FATHERS 361 

" 'Well, my man,' I exclaimed, 'there are two 
of us now, and we will drag your wife to my 
house.' 

"But the howling dogs forced us to go outside, 
and we had to separate them by beating them with 
our sticks, at the risk of killing them. Then the 
idea struck me to harness them with us, one on the 
right and the other on the left, in order to help us. 
In ten minutes everything was ready, and the 
wagon started forward slowly, shaking the poor, 
suffering woman each time it bumped over a rut. 

"Such a road, my friend! We were going 
along, panting, perspiring, slipping, and falling, 
while our poor dogs puffed along beside us. 

"It took three hours to reach the cottage. When 
we arrived before the door the cries from the wagon 
had ceased, and mother and child were doing well. 

"They were put to bed, and then I had a horse 
harnessed in order to go for a physician, while 
the man, an inhabitant of Marseilles, reassured, 
consoled, boasting, was stuffing himself with food 
and getting drunk in order to celebrate this happy 
birth. 

"It was a girl. 

"I kept these people with me for a week. The 
mother, Mademoiselle Elmire, was an extraordi- 
narily gifted clairvoyante, who promised me an 
interminable life and countless joys. 

"The following year, at exactly the same date, 
toward nightfall, the servant who has just called 



362 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

me came to me in the smoking-room after dinner 
and said : 'It's the gypsy of last year who has 
come to thank Monsieur.' 

"I had her come in the house, and I was dumb- 
founded as I saw beside her a tall blond fellow, 
a man from the North, who bowed and spoke to 
me as chief of the community. He had heard of 
my kindness for Mademoiselle Elmire, and he had 
not wished to let this anniversary go by without 
bringing to me their thanks and a testimony of 
their gratitude. 

"I gave them supper in the kitchen, and offered 
them my hospitality for the night. They departed 
the following day. 

"Every year the woman returns at the same date 
with the child, a fine little girl, and a new man 
each time. One man only, a fellow from Auvergne, 
came two years in succession. The little girl calls 
them all Tapa/ just as one says ^Monsieur' with 
us." 

We were approaching the cottage, and we could 
barely distinguish three shadows standing on the 
porch, waiting for us. The tallest one took a few 
steps forward, made a low bow, and said: 'Mon- 
sieur le Comte, we have come to-day in recognition 
of our gratefulness." 

He was a Belgian ! 

After him, the little one spoke in the shrill, sing- 
ing voice which children use when they recite a 
composition. 



THE FATHERS 363 

I assumed ignorance, and took Mademoiselle El- 
mire aside, and, after a few questions, I asked 
her : " Is that the father of your child ?" 

"Oh, no. Monsieur." 

"Is the father dead?" 

"Oh, no, Monsieur, We still see each other 
from time to time. He is a gendarme." 

"What! then it wasn't the fellow from Mar- 
seilles who was there at the birth?" 

"Oh, no, Monsieur. That was a rascal who stole 
all my savings." 

"And the gendarme, the real father, does he 
know his child?" 

"Oh, yes. Monsieur, and he loves her very much ; 
but he can't take care of her because he has other 
children by his wife." 



THE MOUNTAIN INN 

THE Inn of Schwarenbach resembles in ap- 
pearance all the wooden hostelries of the 
High Alps situated at the foot of glaciers in 
the barren rocky gorges that intersect the summits 
of the mountains, and serves as a resting-place for 
travelers crossing the Gemmi Pass. 

It remains open for six months in the year, and 
is inhabited by the family of Jean Hauser ; then, as 
soon as the snow begins to fall, filling the valley 
so as to make the road down to Loeche impassable, 
the father and his three sons go away, and leave the 
house in charge of the old guide, Gaspard Hari, 
with the young guide, Ulrich Kunsi, and Sam, the 
great mountain dog. 

The two men and the dog remain till the spring 
in their snowy prison, with nothing before their 
eyes except the immense white slopes of the Balm- 
horn, surrounded by white, glistening summits, and 
are shut in, blocked up, and buried by the snow 
which rises around them, and which envelops, binds, 
and crushes the little house ; it lies piled on the 
roof, covers the windows and blocks the door. 

364 



I 



THE MOUNTAIN INN 365 

It was the day on which the Hauser family were 
about to return to Loeche, as winter was approach- 
ing, and the descent was becoming dangerous. 
Three mules set out first, laden with baggage and 
led by the three sons. Then the mother, Jeanne 
Hauser, and her daughter Louise mounted a fourth 
mule, and set off in their turn, the father follow- 
ing them, accompanied by the two men in charge, 
who were to escort the family as far as the brow of 
the descent. First they passed round the small 
lake, which was now frozen over, at the bottom of 
the mass of rocks which stretched in front of the 
inn, and then they followed the valley, which was 
dominated on all sides by the snow-covered sum- 
mits. 

A ray of sunlight fell into that little white, glis- 
tening, frozen desert, and illuminated it with a cold 
and dazzling flame ; no living thing appeared among 
this ocean of mountains ; there was no motion in 
this immeasurable solitude, and no noise disturbed 
the profound silence. 

By degrees the young guide, Ulrich Kunsi, a 
tall, long-legged Swiss, left old Hauser and Gas- 
pard behind, so as to overtake the mule that bore 
the two women. The younger one looked at him 
as he approached, and appeared to be summoning 
him with her sad eyes. She was a young, fair- 
haired little peasant girl, whose milk-white cheeks 
and pale hair looked as if they had lost their color 
by her long stay amid the ice. When he had 

Vol. 2—24 



366 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

overtaken the animal she was riding, he put his 
hand on the crupper, and relaxed his speed, Mother 
Hauser began to talk to him, enumerating with the 
minutest details all that he would have to attend 
to during the winter. It was the first time that he 
was to stay up there, while old Hari had already 
spent fourteen winters amid the snow, at the Inn 
of Schwarenbach. 

Ulrich Kunsi listened, without appearing to un- 
derstand, and looked continually at the girl. From 
time to time he replied: "Yes, Madame Hauser;" 
but his thoughts seemed far away, and his calm 
features remained unmoved. 

They reached Lake Daube, whose broad, frozen 
surface extended to the end of the valley. On the 
right one saw the black, pointed rocky summits of 
the Daubenhorn beside the enormous moraines of » 
the Lommern glacier, above which rose the Wild- J| 
strubel. As they approached the Gemmi Pass, 
where the descent of Loeche begins, they suddenly 
beheld the immense horizon of the Alps of the 
Valais, from which the broad valley of the Rhone 
separated them. 

In the distance was a group of white, unequal, 
flat or pointed mountain summits, which glistened 
in the sun; the Mischabel with its two peaks, the 
huge group of the Weisshorn, the heavy Bru- 
negghorn, the lofty and formidable pyramid of 
Mount Cervin, that slayer of men, and the Dent- 
Blanche, that monstrous coquette. 



THE MOUNTAIN INN 367 

Beneath them, in a tremendous hole, at the bot- 
tom of a terrific abyss, they perceived Loeche, 
where houses looked like grains of sand which had 
been thrown into that enormous crevasse, which is 
ended and closed by the Gemmi, and which opens, 
far below, on the Rhone. 

The mule stopped at the edge of the path, which 
winds and turns continually, doubling backward, 
then fantastically and strangely, along the side of 
the mountain, as far as the almost invisible little vil- 
lage at its feet. The women jumped down into the 
snow, and the two old men joined them. "Well," 
Father Hauser said, "good-bye, and keep up your 
spirits till next year, my friends," and old Hari re- 
plied : "Till next year." 

They embraced each other, and then Madame 
Hauser in her turn offered her cheek, and the girl 
did the same. 

When Ulrich Kunsi's turn came, he whispered 
in Louise's ear: "Do not forget those up yonder," 
and she replied, "No," in a voice so low that he 
guessed what she had said without hearing it. 
"Well, adieu," Jean Hauser repeated, "and don't 
fall ill." And going before the two women, he 
began the descent. Soon all three disappeared at 
the first turn in the road, while the two men re- 
turned to the Inn at Schwarenbach, 

They walked slowly, side by side, without speak- 
ing. It was over, and they would be alone together 
four or five months. Then Gaspard Hari began 



368 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

to relate his life last winter. He had remained 
with Michael Canol, who was too old now to endure 
it; for an accident might happen during that long 
solitude. They had not been dull, however; the 
only thing to do was to make up one's mind to it 
from the first, and in the end one would find plenty 
of distraction, games, and other means of passing 
away the time. 

Ulrich Kunsi listened to him with his eyes on the 
ground, for in his thoughts he was following those 
who were descending to the village. They soon 
came in sight of the inn, which was, however, 
hardly visible, so small did it look, a black speck 
at the foot of that enormous billow of snow, and 
when they opened the door, Sam, the great curly 
dog, began to frisk round them. 

*'Come, my boy," old Gaspard said, "we have 
no women now, so we must get our own dinner 
ready. Go and peel the potatoes." Both sat down 
on wooden stools, and began to put the bread into 
the soup. 

The next morning seemed very long to Kunsi. 
Old Hari smoked and spat on the hearth, while the 
young man looked out of the window at the snow- 
covered mountain opposite the house. 

In the afternoon he went out, and, going over 
yesterday's ground again, he looked for the traces 
of the mule that had carried the two women ; then, 
when he had reached the Gemmi Pass, he laid him- 
self down on his stomach and looked at LoechCi 



THE MOUNTAIN INN 369 

The village, in its rocky pit, was not yet buried 
under the snow, from which it was sheltered by the 
pine woods which protected it on all sides. Its low 
houses looked like paving-stones in a large meadow, 
from above, Hauser's little daughter was there 
now, in one of those gray-colored houses. In 
which? Ulrich Kunsi was too far away to be able 
to make them out separately. How he would have 
liked to go down, while he was yet able ! 

But the sun had disappeared behind the lofty 
crest of the Wildstrubel, and the young man re- 
turned to the chalet. Daddy Hari was smoking, and 
when he saw his mate come in, he proposed a game 
of cards to him, and they sat down opposite each 
other, on either side of the table. They played for 
a long time, a simple game called brisque, then 
they had supper and went to bed. 

The following days were like the first, bright and 
cold, without any fresh snow. Old Gaspard spent 
his afternoons in watching the eagles and other 
rare birds which ventured on those frozen heights, 
while Ulrich returned regularly to the Gemmi Pass 
to look at the village. They played cards, dice, or 
dominoes, and lost and won a trifle, just to create 
an interest in the game. 

One morning Hari, who was up first, called his 
companion. A moving, deep, and light cloud of 
white spray was falling on them noiselessly, and 
was by degrees burying them under a thick, heavy 
coverlet of foam. That lasted four days and four 



370 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

nights. It was necessary to free the door and the 
windows, to dig out a passage, and to cut steps to 
get over this frozen powder, which a twelve hours' 
frost had made as hard as the granite of the 
moraines. 

They lived like prisoners, and did not venture 
outside their abode. They had divided their duties, 
which they performed regularly. Ulrich Kunsi un- 
dertook the scouring, washing, and everything that 
belonged to cleanliness. He also chopped all the 
wood, while Gaspard Hari did the cooking and at- 
tended to the fire. Their regular and monotonous 
work was interrupted by long games at cards or 
dice, and they never quarreled, but were always 
calm and placid. They were never even impatient 
or ill-humored, nor did they ever use hard words, 
for they had laid in a stock of patience for their 
wintering on the top of the mountain. 

Sometimes old Gaspard took his rifle and went 
after chamois, and occasionally he killed one. Then 
there was a feast in the Inn at Schwarenbach, and 
they reveled in fresh meat. One morning he went 
out as usual. The thermometer outside marked 
eighteen degrees of frost, and as the sun had not yet 
risen, the hunter hoped to surprise the animals at 
the approaches to the Wildstrubel, and Ulrich, be- 
ing alone, remained in bed until ten o'clock. He 
was of a sleepy nature, but he would not have dared 
to g^ve way like that to his inclination in the pres- 
ence of the old guide, who was ever an early riser. 



THE MOUNTAIN INN 371 

He breakfasted leisurely with Sam, who also spent 
his days and nights in sleeping in front of the fire ; 
then he felt low-spirited and even frightened at the 
solitude, and was seized by a longing for his daily 
game of cards, as one is by the craving of a con- 
firmed habit, and so he went out to meet his com- 
panion, who was to return at four o'clock. 

The snow had leveled the whole deep valley, filled 
up the crevasses, obliterated all signs of the two 
lakes, and covered the rocks, so that between the 
high summits there was nothing but an immense, 
white, regular, dazzling, and frozen surface. For 
three weeks Ulrich had not been to the edge of the 
precipice from which he had looked down on the 
village, and he wished to go there before climbing 
the slopes that led to Wildstrubel. Loeche was 
now also covered by the snow, and the houses could 
hardly be distinguished, covered as they were by 
that white cloak. 

Turning to the right, he reached the Loemmem 
glacier. He went on with a mountaineer's long 
strides, striking the snow, which was as hard as a 
rock, with his iron-pointed stick, and with his pierc- 
ing eyes he looked for the little black, moving speck 
in the distance, on that enormous, white expanse. 

When he reached the end of the glacier he 
stopped and asked himself whether the old man 
had taken that road, and then he began to walk 
along the moraines with rapid and uneasy steps. 
The day was declining; the snow was assuming a 



372 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

rosy tint, and a dry, freezing wind blew in rough 
gusts over its crystal surface. Ulrich uttered a 
long, shrill, vibrating call ; his voice sped through 
the deathlike silence in which the mountains were 
sleeping; it reached the distance, over profound 
and motionless waves of glacial foam, like the cry 
of a bird over the waves of the sea; then it died 
away and nothing answered him. 

He began to walk again. The sun had sunk 
yonder behind the mountain tops, which were still 
purple with the reflection from the sky; but the 
depths of the valley were becoming gray, and sud- 
denly the young man felt frightened. It seemed to 
him as if the silence, the cold, the solitude, the win- 
ter death of these mountains were taking posses- 
sion of him, were going to stop and freeze his 
blood, tp make his limbs grow stiff, and to turn him 
into a motionless and frozen object; and he set off 
running, fleeing toward his dwelling. The old man, 
he thought, would have returned during his absence. 
He had taken another road ; he would, no doubt, be 
sitting before the fire, with a dead chamois at his 
feet. 

He soon came in sight of the inn, but no smoke 
rose from it. Ulrich walked faster and opened the 
door; Sam ran up to him to greet him, but Gas- 
pard Hari had not returned. Kunsi, in his alarm, 
turned round suddenly, as if he had expected to find 
his comrade hidden in a corner. Then he relighted 
the fire and made the soup, hoping every moment 



THE MOUNTAIN INN Z72) 

to see the old man come in. From time to time he 
went out to see whether he were not coming. It 
was quite night now, that wan, livid night of the 
mountains, lighted by the crescent moon, yellow and 
thin, just disappearing behind the mountain tops. 

Then the young man went in and sat down to 
warm his hands and his feet, while he pictured to 
himself every possible accident. Gaspard might 
have broken a leg, have fallen into a crevasse, taken 
a false step and dislocated his ankle. Perhaps, 
he was lying on the snow, overcome and stiff with 
the cold, in agony of mind, lost and perhaps shout- 
ing for help, calling with all his might, in the silence 
of the night. 

But where? The mountain was so vast, so 
rugged, so dangerous in places, especially at that 
time of the year, that it would have required ten or 
twenty guides to walk for a week in all directions, 
to find a man in that immense space. Ulrich Kunsi, 
however, made up his mind to set out with Sam, if 
Gaspard did not return by one in the morning; and 
he made his preparations. 

He put provisions for two days into a bag, took 
his steel climbing-irons, tied a long, thin, strong 
rope round his waist, and looked to see that his iron- 
shod stick and his axe, which served to cut steps 
in the ice, were in order. Then he waited. The fire 
was burning on the hearth, the great dog was snor- 
ing in front of it, and the clock was ficking as regu- 
larly as a heart beating, in its resounding wooden 
case. 



374 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

He waited, with his ears on the alert for distant 
sounds, and he shivered when the wind blew against 
the roof and the walls. It struck twelve, and he 
trembled. Then, frightened and shivering, he put 
some water on the fire, so that he might have some 
hot coffee before starting, and when the clock 
struck one he got up, woke Sam, opened the door, 
and went off in the direction of the Wildstrubel. 
For five hours he mounted, scaling the rocks by 
means of his climbing-irons, cutting into the ice, 
advancing continually, and occasionally hauling up 
the dog, which remained below at the foot of some 
slope that was too steep for him, by means of the 
rope. It was about six o'clock when he reached one 
of the summits to which old Gaspard often came 
after chamois, and he waited till daylight. 

The sky was growing pale overhead, and a 
strange light, springing nobody could tell whence, 
suddenly illuminated the immense ocean of pale 
mountain summits, which extended for a hundred 
leagues around him. One might have said that 
this vague brightness arose from the snow itself, 
and spread abroad in space. By degrees the high- 
est distant summits assumed a delicate, pink flesh 
color, and the red sun appeared behind the ponder- 
ous giants of the Bernese Alps. 

Ulrich Kunsi set off again, walking like a hunter, 
bent over, looking for tracks, and saying to his 
dog: "Seek, old fellow, seek!" 

He was descending the mountain now, scanning 



THE MOUNTAIN INN 375 

the depths closely, and from time to time shouting, 
uttering a loud, prolonged cry, which soon died 
away in that silent vastness. Then he put his ear 
to the ground, to listen ; he thought he could distin- 
guish a voice, and he began to run, and shouted 
again ; but he heard nothing more and sat down, ex- 
hausted and in despair. Toward midday he break- 
fasted and gave Sam, as tired as himself, something 
to eat also, and then he resumed his search. 

When evening came he was still walking, and he 
had walked more than thirty miles over the moun- 
tains. As he was too far away to return home, and 
too tired to drag himself along any further, he dug 
a hole in the snow and crouched in it with his dog, 
under a blanket which he had brought with him. 
And the man and the dog lay side by side, trying 
to keep warm, but frozen to the marrow, neverthe- 
less. Ulrich hardly slept, his mind haunted by 
visions and his limbs shaking with cold. 

Day was breaking when he got up. His legs were 
as stiff as iron bars, and his spirits so low that he 
was ready to cry with anguish, while his heart was 
throbbing so that he almost fell over with agitation 
when he thought he heard a sound. 

Suddenly he imagined that he, too, was about to 
die of cold in the midst of this vast solitude, and the 
terror of such a death roused his energies and gave 
him renewed vigor. He was descending toward the 
inn, falling down and getting up again, and fol- 
lowed at a distance by Sam, who was limping on 



376 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

three legs, and they did not reach Schwarenbach 
until four o'clock in the afternoon. The house was 
empty, and the young man made a fire, had some- 
thing to eat, and went to sleep, so exhausted that he 
did not think of anything more. 

He slept for a long time, for a very long time, 
an irresistible sleep. But suddenly a voice, a cry, a 
name, "Ulrich" aroused him from his profound 
torpor, and made him sit up in bed. Had he been 
dreaming? Was it one of those strange appeals 
that cross the dreams of disquieted minds? No, 
he heard it still, that reverberating cry — which had 
entered his ears and remained in his flesh — to the 
tips of his sinewy fingers. Certainly, somebody had 
cried out, and called: "Ulrich!" Somebody was 
there, near the house, there could be no doubt of 
that, and he opened the door and shouted: "Is 
it you, Gaspard ?" with all the strength of his lungs. 
But there was no reply, no murmur, no groan, noth- 
ing. It was quite dark, and the snow looked wan. 

The wind had risen, that icy wind that cracks 
the rocks, and leaves nothing alive on those deserted 
heights, and it came in sudden guests, which were 
more parching and more deadly than the burning 
wind of the desert, and again Ulrich shouted: 
"Gaspard! Gaspard! Gaspard!" He waited again. 
Everything was silent on the mountain! Then he 
shook with terror and with a bound he was inside 
the inn ; he shut and bolted the door, and fell into 
a chair trembling all over, for he felt certain that 



THE MOUNTAIN INN Z77 

his comrade had called him at the moment he was 
expiring. 

He was sure of that, as sure as one is of being 
alive, or of eating a piece of bread. Old Gaspard 
Hari had been dying for two days and three nights 
somewhere, in some hole, in one of those deep, un- 
trodden ravines whose whiteness is more sinister 
than subterranean darkness. He had been dying 
for two days and three nights, and he had just then 
died, thinking of his comrade. His soul, almost be- 
fore it was released, had taken its flight to the inn 
where Ulrich was sleeping, and it had called him 
by that terrible and mysterious power which the 
spirits of the dead have to haunt the living. That 
voiceless soul had cried to the weary soul of the 
sleeper; it had uttered its last farewell, or its re- 
proach, or its curse on the man who had not 
searched carefully enough. 

Ulrich felt 'that it was there, quite close to him, 
behind the wall, behind the door which he had 
just fastened. It was wandering about, like a night 
bird which lightly touches a lighted window with his 
wings, and the terrified young man was ready to 
scream with horror. He longed to run away, but 
did not dare to go out; he did not dare, and he 
should never dare to do it in the future, for that 
phantom would remain there day and night, round 
the inn, so long as the old man's body was not re- 
covered and had not been deposited in the conse- 
crated earth of a churchyard. 



378 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

When it was daylight Kunsi recovered some of 
his courage at the return of the bright sun. He 
prepared his meal, gave his dog some food, and then 
remained motionless on a chair, tortured at heart 
as he thought of the old man lying on the snow, 
and then, as soon as night once more covered the 
mountains, new terrors assailed him. He now 
walked up and down the dark kitchen, which was 
barely lighted by the flame of one candle, and he 
walked from one end of it to the other with great 
strides, listening, listening whether the terrible cry 
of the other night would again break the dreary 
silence outside. He felt himself a lone, unhappy 
man, as no man had ever been alone before! He 
was alone in this immense desert of snow, alone 
five thousand feet above the inhabited earth, above 
human habitations, above that stirring, noisy, pal- 
pitating life, alone under an icy sky! A mad long- 
ing impelled him to run away, no matter where, to 
get down to Loeche by flinging himself over the 
precipice ; but he did not even dare to open the door, 
as he felt sure that the other, the dead man, would 
bar his road, so that he might not be obliged to 
remain up there alone. 

Toward midnight, tired with walking, worn out 
by grief and fear, he at last fell into a doze in his 
chair, for he was as afraid of his bed as one is of 
a haunted spot. But suddenly the strident cry of 
the other evening pierced his ears, and it. was so 
shrill that Ulrich stretched out his arms to repulse 



THE MOUNTAIN INN 379 

the spectre, and he fell backward with his chair. 

Sam, who was awakened by the noise, began to 
howl as frightened dogs do howl, and he walked all 
about the house trying to find out where the danger 
came from. When he got to the door, he sniflFed 
beneath it, smelling vigorously, with his coat bris- 
tling and his tail stiff, while he growled angrily. 
Kunsi, terrified, jumped up, and, holding his chair 
by one leg, he cried : ''Don't come in, don't come in, 
or I shall kill you." And the dog, excited by this 
threat, barked angrily at that invisible enemy who 
defied his master's voice. By degrees, however, he 
quieted down and came back and stretched himself 
in front of the fire, but he was uneasy, kept his 
head up, and growled between his teeth. 

Ulrich, in turn, recovered his senses, but as he 
felt faint with terror, he went and got a bottle of 
brandy out of the sideboard, and he drank off sev- 
eral glasses, one after another, at a gulp. His ideas 
became vague, his courage revived, and a feverish 
glow ran through his veins. 

He ate hardly anything the next day, and lim- 
ited himself to alcohol, and so he lived for several 
days, like a drunken brute. As soon as he thought 
of Gaspard Hari, he began to drink again, and went 
on drinking until he fell to the ground, overcome by 
intoxication. There he remained lying on his face, 
dead drunk, his limbs benumbed, and snoring loudly. 
But hardly had he digested the maddening and 
burning liquor when the same cry, 'Ulrich!" woke 



380 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

him like a bullet piercing his brain, and he got up, 
still staggering, stretching out his hands to save him- 
self from falling, and calling to Sam to help him. 
And the dog, which appeared to be going mad like 
his master, rushed to the door, scratched it with 
his claws, and gnawed it with his long* white teeth, 
while the young man, with his head thrown back, 
drank the brandy in draughts, as if it had been 
cold water, so that it might' by and by send his 
thoughts, his frantic terror, and his memory to sleep 
again. 

In three weeks he had consumed all his stock of 
ardent spirits. But his continual drunkenness only 
lulled his terror, which awoke* more furiously than 
ever as soon as it was impossible for him to calm it. 
His fixed idea then, which had been intensified by 
a month of drunkenness, and which was continually 
increasing in his absolute solitude, penetrated him 
like a gimlet. He now walked about his house like 
a wild beast in its cage, putting his ear to the door 
to listen if the other were there, and defying him 
through the wall. Then, as soon as he dozed, over- 
come by fatigue, he heard the voice which made him 
leap to his feet. 

At last one night, as cowards do when driven to 
extremities, he sprang to the door and opened it, 
to see who was calling him, and to force him to 
keep quiet, but such a gust of cold wind blew into 
his face that it chilled him to the bone, and he closed 
and bolted the door again immediately, without 



THE MOUNTAIN INN 381 

noticing that Sam had rushed out. Then, as he was 
shivering with cold, he threw some wood on the fire, 
and sat down in front of it to warm himself, but 
suddenly he started, for somebody was scratching 
At the wall, and crying. In desperation he called 
out: "Go away!" but was answered by another 
long, sorrowful wail. 

Then all his remaining senses forsook him from 
sheer fright. He repeated : "Go away!" and turned 
round to try to find some corner in which to hide, 
while the other creature went round the house still 
■sirying and rubbing against the wall. Ulrich went 
to the oak sideboard, which was full of plates and 
d'shes and of provisions, and, lifting it up with 
superhuman strength, he dragged it to the door, so 
i\s to form a barricade. Then, piling up all the 
rest of the furniture, the mattresses and chairs, he 
stopped up the windows as one does when assailed 
by an enemy. 

But the thing outside now uttered long, plaintive, 
mournful groans, to which the young man replied 
by similar groans, and thus days and nights passed, 
without their ceasing to howl at each other. The 
one v/as continually walking round the house, and 
scraped the walls with his nails so vigorously that 
it seemed as if he wished to destroy them, while 
the other, inside, followed all his movements, stoop- 
ing down, and holding his ear to the walls, and re- 
plying to all his appeals with terrible cries. One 
evening, however, Ulrich heard nothing more, and 

Vol. 2—23 



382 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

he sat down, so overcome by fatigue, that he went 
to sleep immediately, and awoke in the morning 
without a thought, without any recollection of what 
had happened, just as if his head had been emptied 
during his heavy sleep, but he felt hungry, and he 
ate. 

The winter was over, and the Gemmi Pass was 
passable again, so the Hauser family set off to re- 
turn to their inn. As soon as they had reached the 
top of the ascent, the women mounted their mule, 
and spoke about the two men they would meet 
again shortly. They were, indeed, rather surprised 
that neither of them had come down a few days be- 
fore, as soon as the road was open, in order to tell 
them all about their long winter sojourn. At^last, 
however, they saw the inn, still covered with snow, 
like a quilt. The door and the window were closed, 
but a little smoke was coming out of the chimney, 
which reassured old Hauser; on going up to the 
door, however, he saw the skeleton of an animal 
which had been torn to pieces by the eagles, a large 
skeleton lying on its side. 

They all looked close at it, and the mother said: 
"That must be Sam," and then she shouted: "Hi! 
Gaspard!" . A cry from the interior of the house 
answered her, such a sharp cry that one might have 
thought some animal had uttered it. Old Hauser 
repeated: "Hi! Gaspard!" and they heard another 
cry, similar to the first. 

Then the three men, the father and the two sons, 



THE MOUNTAIN INN 383 

tried to open the door, but it resisted their efforts. 
From the empty cow-stall they took a beam to 
serve as a battering-ram, and hurled it against the 
door with all their might. The wood gave way, and 
the boards flew into splinters ; then the house was 
shaken by a loud voice, and inside, behind the side- 
board which was overturned, they saw a man stand- 
ing upright, with his hair falling on his shoulders, 
and a beard descending to his breast, with shining 
eyes and nothing but rags to cover him. They did 
not recognize him, but Louise Hauser exclaimed : 
"It is Ulrich, mother!" And her mother declared 
that it was Ulrich, although his hair was white. 

He allowed them to go up to him, and to touch 
him, but he did not reply to any of their questions, 
and they were obliged to take him to Loeche, where 
the doctors found that he was mad, and nobodytever 
found out what had become of his companion. 

Little Louise Hauser nearly died that summer of 
decline, which the physicians attributed to the coW 
air of the mountains. 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 

WE had just left Gisors, where I awoke when 
the name of the town was called out by the 
guards, and I was dozing off again when a 
terrific shock threw me forward upon a large lady 
who sat opposite me. 

One of the wheels of the engine had broken, 
and the engine itself lay across the track. The 
tender and the baggage-car were also derailed, and 
lay beside this mutilated engine, which rattled, 
groaned, hissed, puffed, sputtered, and resembled 
those horses that fall in the street with their flanks 
heaving, their breast palpitating, their nostrils 
steaming and their whole body trembling, but in- 
capable of any effort to rise. 

There were no dead or wounded ; only a few with 
bruises, for the train was not going at full speed. 
And we looked with sorrow at the great crippled 
iron creature that could not draw us along any 
more, and that blocked the track, perhaps for some 
time, for no doubt they would have to send to Paris 
for a special train to come to our aid. 

3S4 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 385 

It was ten o'clock in the morning, and I at once 
decided to return to Gisors for breakfast. 

As I was walking along I said to myself : 

"Gisors, Gisors — why. I know some one there. 
Who is it? Gisors? Let me see, I have a friend 
in this town." A name suddenly came to my mind, 
"Albert Marambot." He was an old school friend 
whom I had not seen for twelve years, and who 
was practising medicine in Gisors. He had often 
invited me to come and see him, I had always prom- 
ised to do so, and at last I would take advantage 
of this opportunity. I asked the first passer-by : 

"Do you know where Doctor Marambot lives?" 

He replied, without hesitation, and with the 
drawling accent of the Normans : 

"Rue Dauphine." 

I presently saw, on the door of the house he 
pointed out, a large brass plate on which was en- 
graved the name of my old chum. I rang the bell 
but the servant, a yellow-haired girl who moved 
slowly, said with a stupid air : 

"He isn't here, he isn't here." 

I heard a sound of forks and of glasses and I 
cried : 

"Hello, Marambot!" 

A door opened and a large man, with whiskers 
and a cross look on his face, appeared, with a 
dinner napkin in his hand. 

I certainly should not have recognized him. One 
would have said he was forty-five at least, and in 



386 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

a second all the provincial life that makes one grow 
heavy, dull, and old came before me. In a single 
flash of thought, quicker than the act of extending 
my hand to him, I could see his life, his manner of 
existence, his line of thought and his theories of 
things in general. I guessed at the prolonged meals 
that had rounded out his stomach, his after-dinner 
naps from the torpor of a slow indigestion aided by 
cognac, and his vague glances cast on the patient 
while he thought of the chicken that was roasting. 
His conversation about cooking, about cider, brandy 
and wine, the way of preparing certain dishes and 
of blending certain sauces were revealed to me at 
sight of his puffy red cheeks, his heavy lips and 
his lustreless eyes. 

"You do not recognize me. I am Raoul Auber- 
tin," I said. 

He opened his arms and gave me such a hug that 
I thought he would choke me. 

"You have not breakfasted, have you?" 

"No." 

"How fortunate! I was just sitting down to table, 
and I have an excellent trout." 

Five minutes later I was sitting opposite him at 
breakfast. I said: 

"Are you a bachelor?" 

"Yes, indeed." 

"And do you like it here?" 

"Time does not hang heavy; I am busy. I have 
patients and friends. I eat well, have good health, 
enjoy laughing and shooting. I get along." 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 3S7 

"Is not life monotonous in this little town?" 

"No, my dear boy, not when one knows how 
to fill in the time. A little town is like a large 
one. The incidents and amusements are less varied, 
but one makes more of them ; one has fewer ac- 
quaintances, but meets them more frequently. When 
you know all the windows in a street, each one of 
them interests you and puzzles you more than a 
whole street in Paris. 

"A little town is very amusing, you know, very 
amusing, very amusing. Why, take Gisors. I know 
it at the tips of my fingers, from its beginning up 
to the present time. You have no idea what a 
queer history it has." 

"Do you belong in Gisors?" 

''I? No. I come from Gournay, its neighbor 
and rival. Gournay is to Gisors what Lucullus was 
to Cicero. Here, everything is for glory ; they 
say 'the proud people of Gisors.' At Gournay, 
everything is for the stomach ; they say 'the chewers 
of Gournay.' Gisors despises Gournay, but Gour- 
nay laughs at Gisors. It is a very comical country." 

I perceived that I was eating something very de- 
licious, hard-boiled eggs wrapped in meat jelly 
flavored with herbs and put on ice for a few mo- 
ments. I said as I smacked my lips to compliment 
Marambot : 

"That is good. " 

He smiled. 

"Two things are necessary, good jelly, whioli i^ 



388 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

hard to get, and good eggs. Oh, how rare good 
eggs are, with the yolks slightly reddish, and with 
a good flavor ! I have two poultry yards, one for 
eggs and the other for chickens. I feed my laying 
hens in a special manner. I have my own ideas on 
the subject. In an egg, as in the meat of a chicken, 
in beef, or in mutton, in milk, in everything, one 
perceives, and ought to taste, the juice, the quintes- 
sence of all the food on which the animal has been 
fed. How much better food we could have if more 
attention were paid to this!" 

I laughed as I said: 

"You are a gourmand?" 

^'Parbleu! It is only imbeciles who are not. One 
is a gourmand as one is an artist, as one is learned, 
as one is a poet. The sense of taste is very deli- 
cate, capable of perfection, and as worthy of re- 
spect as the eye and the ear. Anyone who lacks this 
sense is deprived of an exquisite faculty, that of 
discerning the quality of food, just as one may lack 
the faculty of discerning the beauties of a book 
or a work of art; it means to be deprived of an 
essential organ, of something that belongs to higher 
humanity ; it means to belong to one of those in- 
numerable classes of the infirm, the unfortunate, 
and the fools of which our race is largely com- 
posed ; it means to have the mouth of an animal, 
in a word, just like the mind of an animal. A 
man who cannot distinguish one kind of lobster 
from another; a herring — that admirable fish that 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 389 

has all the flavors, all the odors of the sea — from a 
mackerel or a whiting; and a Cresane from a Duch- 
ess pear, may be compared to a man who should 
mistake Balzac for Eugene Sue ; a symphony of 
Beethoven for a military march by a bandmaster ; 
and the Apollo Belvedere for the statue of General 
de Blaumont, 

"Who is General de Blaumont?" 

"Oh, certainly you do not know. It is easy to 
see that you do not belong to Gisors. I told you 
just now, my dear boy, that they called the in- 
habitants of this town 'the proud people of Gisors,' 
and never was an epithet better deserved. But let 
us finish breakfast, and then I will tell you about 
our town and take you to see it." 

He paused every now and then while he slowly 
drank a glass of wine, which he gazed at affection- 
ately as he replaced the glass on the table. It was 
amusing to see him, with a napkin tied around his 
neck, his cheeks flushed, his eyes eager, and his 
whiskers spreading around his mouth as it kept 
working. 

He made me eat until I was almost choking. 
Then, as I was about to return to the railway sta- 
tion, he seized me by the arm and took me through 
the streets. The town, of a pretty, provincial type, 
commanded by its citadel, the most curious monu- 
ment of military architecture of the seventh cen-« 
tury to be found in France, overlooks, in its turn, 
a long, green valley, where the large Norman cows 
graze and ruminate. 



390 G'JY DE MAUPASSANT 

The doctor quoted : 

" 'Gisors, a town of four thousand inhabitants in 
the department of Eure, mentioned in Caesar's Com- 
mentaries : Caesaris ostium, then Caesartium, Caesor- 
tium, Gisortium, Gisors.' I shall not take you to 
visit the old Roman encampment, the remains of 
which are still in existence." 

I laughed and replied : 

"My dear friend, it seems to me that you are 
affected with a special malady, which, as a doctor, 
you ought to study; it is called the spirit of pro- 
vincialism." 

He stopped abruptly. 

"The spirit of provincialism, my friend, is 
nothing but natural patriotism," he said. "I love 
my house, my town and my province, because I dis- 
cover in them the customs of my own village ; but 
if I love my country, if I become angry when a 
neighbor sets foot in it, it is because I feel that my 
home is in danger, because the frontier that I do 
not know is the high road to my province. For 
instance, I am a true Norman. In spite of my hatred 
of the Germans and my desire for revenge, I do 
not detest them, I do not hate them by instinct as 
I hate the English, the real, hereditary natural 
enemy of the Normans; for the English traversed 
this soil inhabited by my ancestors, plundered and 
ravaged it twenty times, and my aversion to this 
perfidious people was transmitted to me by my 
father. See, here is the statue of the General." 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 391 

"What general?" 

"General Blaumont! We had to have a statue. 
We are not 'the proud people of Gisors' for nothing. 
So we discovered General de Blaumont. Look in 
this bookseller's window." 

He drew me toward the bookstore, where about 
fifteen red, yellow, and blue volumes attracted the 
eye. As I read the titles, I began to laugh idiot- 
ically. They read: 

Gisors, its origin, and its future, by M. X. . . 
member of several learned societies ; History of 
Gisors, by the Abbe A. . . ; Gisors, from the time 

of CcEsar to the present day, by M. B 

Landowner; Gisors and its environs, by Doctor C. 
D. . . ; The Glories of Gisors, by a Discoverer. 

"My friend," resumed Marambot, "not a year, 
not a single year, you understand, passes without 
a fresh history of Gisors being published here ; we 
now have twenty-three." 

"And the glories of Gisors?" I asked. 

"Oh, I will not mention them all, only the prin- 
cipal ones. We had first General de Blaumont, then 
Baron Davillier, the celebrated ceramist who ex- 
plored Spain and the Balearic Isles, and brought to 
the notice of collectors the wonderful Hispano- 
Arabic china. In literature we have a very clever 
journalist, now dead, Charles Brainne, and among 
those who are living, the very eminent editor of 
the Nouvelliste de Rouen, Charles Lapierre and 
many others." 



392 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

We were traversing a long street with a gentle 
incline. A June sun was beating down on it and 
driving the residents into their houses. 

Suddenly at the farther end of the street ap- 
peared a drunken man who was staggering along, 
with his head forward, "his arms and legs limp. He 
would walk forward rapidly a few steps, and then 
stop. When these energetic movements landed him 
in the middle of the road he stopped short and 
swayed on his feet, hesitating between falling and a 
fresh start. Then he would dart off in any direction, 
sometimes falling against a house, where he ap- 
peared to be fastened, as if he were trying to get in 
through the wall. Then he would suddenly turn 
round and look ahead of him, his mouth open and 
his eyes blinking in the sunlight, and getting away 
from the wall by a movement of the hips, he started 
off once more. 

A little, half-starved cur followed him, barking; 
stopping when he stopped, and starting off when 
he started. 

"Hello," said Marambot, '^here is Madame Hus- 
son's Rosier." 

''Madame Husson's Rosier," I exclaimed. "What 
do you mean?" 

The doctor began to laugh. 

"Oh, that is what we call drunkards round here. 
The name comes from an old story, which has now 
become a legend, although it is true in all respects." 

"Is it amusing?" 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 393 

"Very amusing." 

"Well, then, tell it to me." 

"I will." 

Once, in this town, lived a very upright 
old lady who was a great guardian of morals and 
was called Madame Husson. You know, I am tell- 
ing you the real names, not imaginary ones. Ma- 
dame Husson took a special interest in good works, 
in helping the poor and encouraging the deserving. 
She was a little woman with a quick walk and 
wore a black wig. She was ceremonious, polite, on 
very good terms with the Almighty in the person 
of Abbe Malon, and had a profound horror of vice, 
and, in particular, of the vice the Church calls 
lasciviousness. Any irregularity before marriage 
made her furious, exasperated her till she was be- 
side herself. 

Now, this was at the time when they presented a 
prize as a reward of virtue to any girl in the en- 
virons of Paris who was found to be chaste. She 
was called a Rosiere, and Madame Husson got the 
idea of instituting a similar ceremony at Gisors. 
She spoke about it to Abbe Malon, who at once 
made out a list of candidates. 

Madame Husson had a servant, an old woman 
called Frangoise, as upright as her mistress and 
as soon as the priest had left, Madame called the 
servant and said: 

"Here, Frangoise, are the girls whose names 
Monsieur le cure has submitted to me for the prize 



394 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

of virtue ; try to find out what reputation they bear 
in the district." 

Then Frangoise set out. She collected all the 
scandal, all the stories, all the tattle, all the suspi- 
cions. That she might omit nothing, she wrote it 
all down together with her memoranda in her 
housekeeping book, and handed it each morning to 
Madame Husson, who adjusted her spectacles on 
her thin nose, and read as follows : 

Bread four sous 

Milk two sous 

Butter eight sous 

Malvina Levesque got into trouble last year with Ma- 

thurin Poilu. 

Leg of mutton twenty-five sous 

Salt one sou 

Rosalie Vatinel was seen in the Riboudet woods with 

Cesaire Pienoir, by Mme. Onesime, the ironer, on July 

20th about dusk. 

Radishes one sou 

Vinegar two sous 

Oxalic acid two sous 

Josephine Durdent is not believed to have committed a 

fault, although she corresponds with young Oportun, who 

is in service in Rouen, and who sent her a present of a 

cap by diligence. 

Not one came out unscathed in this rigorous in- 
quisition. Frangoise inquired of everyone, neigh- 
bors, drapers, the principal, the teaching sisters at 
school, and gathered all possible details. 

As there is not a girl in the world about whom 
gossips have not found something to say, there was 
not found in all the countryside one young girl 
whose name was free from scandal. 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 395 

But Madame Husson desired that the Rosiere of 
Gisors, like Caesar's wife, should be above suspi- 
cion, and she was horrified, saddened and in de- 
spair at the record in her servant's housekeeping 
account-book. 

They then extended their circle of inquiries to the 
neighboring villages ; but with no satisfaction. They 
consulted the mayor. His candidates failed. Those 
of Dr. Barbesol were equally unlucky, in spite 
of the exactness of his scientific vouchers. But 
one morning Frangoise, on returning from one of 
her expeditions, said to her mistress : 

"You see, Madame, that if you wish to give a 
prize to anyone, there is only Isidore in all the coun- 
try round." 

Madame Husson remained thoughtful. She knew 
him well, this Isidore, the son of Virginie the green- 
grocer. His proverbial virtue had been the delight 
of Gisors for several years, and served as an en- 
tertaining theme of conversation in the town, and 
of amusement to the young girls who loved to 
tease him. He was past twenty-one, was tall, awk- 
ward, slow and timid ; helped his mother in the 
business, and spent his days picking over fruit and 
vegetables, seated on a chair outside the door. 

He had an abnormal dread of a petticoat, and he 
cast down his eyes whenever a female customer 
looked at him smilingly, and this well-known tim- 
idity made him a general butt of ridicule. 

Bold words, coarse expressions, indecent allu- 



396 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

sions, brought the color to his cheeks so quickly 
that Dr. Barbesol had nicknamed him ''the ther- 
mometer of modesty." Was he as innocent as he 
looked? ill-natured people asked themselves. 
Was it the mere presentiment of unknown and 
shameful mysteries, or else indignation at the rela- 
tions opdained as the concomitant of love, that so 
strongly affected the son of Virginie the green- 
grocer? The urchins of the neighborhood, run- 
ning by the shop, would fling' disgusting remarks 
at him, just to see him cast down his eyes. The 
girls amused themselves by walking up and down 
before him, cracking jokes that made him go into 
the store. The boldest among them teased him to 
his face merely to amuse themselves, made appoint- 
ments with him, and proposed all sorts of things. 

So Madame Husson had become thoughtful. 

Certainly, Isidore was an exceptional case of 
notorious, unassailable virtue. No one, among the 
most skeptical, most incredulous, would have dared 
to suspect Isidore of the slightest infraction of any 
law of morality. He never had been seen in a cafe, 
never been seen at night on the street. He went to 
bed at eight o'clock, and rose at four. He was per- 
fection, a pearl. 

But Madame Husson still hesitated. The idea of 
substituting a boy for a girl, a "rosier" for a 
"rosiere," troubled her, worried her a little, and she 
resolved to consult Abbe Malon. 

The abbe responded: 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 397 

"What do you desire to reward, Madame? It is 
virtue, is it not, and nothing but virtue? What 
does it matter to you, therefore, whether it is mas- 
cuhne or feminine ? Virtue is eternal ; it has neither 
sex nor country ; it is 'Virtue.' " 

Thus encouraged, Madame Husson went to see 
the mayor. 

He approved heartily. 

"We will have a fine ceremony," he said. "And 
another year if we can find a girl as worthy as 
Isidore we will give the reward to her. It will 
even be a good example that we shall set to Nan- 
terre. Let us not be exclusive ; let us welcome all 
merit." 

Isidore, who had been told about this, blushed 
deeply and appeared happy. 

The date was fixed for August 15, the festival 
of the Virgin Mary and of the Emperor Napoleon. 
The municipality had decided to make an im- 
posing ceremony and had built the platform on the 
couronneaux, a delightful extension of the ramparts 
of the old citadel, where I shall take you presently. 

With a natural revulsion of public feeling, the 
virtue of Isidore, ridiculed hitherto, had suddenly 
become respected and envied, as it would bring 
him five hundred francs besides a savings-bank 
book, a mountain of consideration, and glory enough 
and to spare. The girls now regretted their frivol- 
ity, their ridicule, their bold manners ; and Isidore, 
though still modest and timid, had now a little 

Vol. 3—26. 



398 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

contented air that bespoke his internal satisfaction. 

The evening before August 15 the entire Rue 
Dauphine was decorated with flags. Oh, I for- 
got to tell you why this street had been called Rue 
Dauphine. 

It appears that the wife or mother of the Dauphin, 
I do not remember which, while visiting Gisors 
had been feted so much by the authorities that dur- 
ing a triumphal procession through the town she 
stopped before a house in this street, halting the 
procession, and exclaimed : 

"Oh, the pretty house! How I should like to go 
through it! To whom does it belong?" 

They told her the name of the owner, who was 
sent for and brought, proud and embarrassed, be- 
fore the Princess. She alighted, went into the 
house, wishing to go over it from top to bottom, 
and even shut herself in one of the rooms alone 
for a few seconds. 

When she came out, the people, flattered at this 
honor paid to a citizen of Gisors, shouted "Long 
live the Dauphine!" But a rhymester wrote some 
words to a refrain, and the street retained the title 
of her royal highness, for 

"The Princess, in a hurry, 
Without bell, priest, or beadle. 
But with some water only, 
Had baptized it." 

But to come back to Isidore. 

They had scattered flowers all along the road, as 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 399 

they do for processions at the Fete-Dieu, and the 
National Guard was present, acting on the orders of 
their chief, Commandant Desbarres, an old soldier 
of the Grand Army, who pointed with pride to 
the beard of a Cossack cut with a single sword- 
stroke from the chin of its owner by the com- 
mandant during the retreat in Russia, which hung 
beside the frame containing the cross of the Legion 
of Honor presented to him by the Emperor himself. 

Moreover, his was a picked regiment celebrated 
throughout the province, and the company of 
grenadiers of Gisors was called on to attend all 
important ceremonies for a distance of fifteen to 
twenty leagues. The story goes that Louis Philippe, 
while reviewing the militia of Eure, stopped in 
astonishment before the company from Gisors, ex- 
claiming : 

"Oh, who are those splendid grenadiers?" 

"The grenadiers of Gisors," replied the general. 

"I might have known it," murmured the King. 

So Commandant Desbarres came at the head of 
his men, preceded by the band, to get Isidore in 
his mother's store. 

After a little air had been played by the band 
beneath the windows, the Rosier himself appeared 
on the threshold. He was dressed in white duck 
from head to foot, and wore a straw hat with a little 
bunch of orange blossoms as a cockade. 

The question of his clothes had troubled Madame 
Husson a good deal, and she hesitated long between 



400 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

the black coat of those who make their first com- 
munion and an entire white suit. Frangoise, her 
counsellor, induced her to decide on the white 
suit, remarking that the Rosier would look like a 
swan. 

Behind him came his guardian, his godmother, 
Madame Husson, in triumph. She took his arm 
to go out of the store, and the Mayor placed him- 
self on the other side of the Rosier. The drums 
beat. Commandant Desbarres gave the order 
"Present arms!" The procession resumed its march 
toward the church, amid an immense crowd of peo- 
ple who had gathered from the neighboring dis- 
tricts. 

After a short mass and an affecting discourse by 
Abbe Malon, they continued on their way to the 
couronneaux, where the banquet was served in a 
tent. 

Before they took their seats at table, the Mayor 
made an address. This is it, word for word. I 
learned it by heart : 

"Young man, a woman of means, beloved by the 
poor and respected by the rich, Madame Husson, 
whom the whole country is thanking here, through 
me, had the idea, the happy and benevolent idea, 
of founding in this town, a prize for virtue, which 
should serve as a valuable encouragement to the in- 
habitants of this beautiful country. 

"You, young man, are the first to be rewarded 
in this dynasty of goodness and chastity. Your 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 401 

name will remain at the head of this list of the most 
deserving, and your life, understand me, your whole 
life, must correspond to this happy beginning. To- 
day, in presence of this noble woman, of these 
soldier-citizens who have taken up their arms in 
your honor, in presence of this populace, affected, 
assembled to applaud you, or, rather, to applaud 
virtue in your person, you make a solemn contract 
with the town, with all of us, to continue until your 
death the excellent example of your youth. Do 
not forget, young man, that you are the first seed 
tast into this field of hope ; give us the fruits that 
we expect of you." 

The Mayor advanced three steps, opened his 
\rms, and pressed Isidore to his heart. 

The Rosier was sobbing without knowing why, 
from a confused emotion, from pride and a vague 
and happy feeling of tenderness. 

Then the Mayor placed in one hand a silk purse 
in which gold tingled — five hundred francs in gold ! 
— and in his other hand a savings-bank book. And 
he said in a solemn tone : 

"Homage, glory and riches to virtue." 

Commandant Desbarres shouted "Bravo!" the 
grenadiers vociferated, and the crowd applauded. 

Madame Husson wiped her eyes, in her turn. 
Then they all sat down at the table, and the banquet 
was served. 

The repast was magnificent and seemed inter- 
minable. One course followed anotlier ; yellow cider 



402 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

and red wine in fraternal contact blended in the 
stomachs of the guests. The rattle of plates, the 
sound of voices, and of music softly played, made 
an incessant deep hum, and was dispersed abroad 
in the clear sky where the swallows were flying. 
Madame Husson occasionally readjusted her black 
wig, which would slip over on one side, and chatted 
with Abbe Malon. The Mayor, who was excited, 
talked politics with Commandant Desbarres, and 
Isidore ate, drank, as if he never had eaten or 
drunk before. He helped himself repeatedly to all 
the dishes, becoming aware for the first time of the 
pleasure of having one's belly full of good things 
which tickle the palate in the first place. He had 
let out a reef in his belt, and, without speaking, and 
although he was a little uneasy at a wine stain on 
his white waistcoat, he ceased eating in order to 
take up his glass and hold it to his mouth as long 
as possible, to enjoy the taste slowly. 

It was time for the toasts. They were many and 
were loudly applauded. Evening was approaching 
and they had been at the table since noon. Fine, 
milky vapors were already floating in the air in the 
valley, the light nightrobe of streams and meadows ; 
the sun neared the horizon ; the cows were lowing 
in the distance amid the mists of the pasture. The 
feast was over. They returned to Gisors. The pro- 
cession, now disbanded, walked in detachments. 
Madame Husson had taken Isidore's arm and was 
giving him a large quantity of excellent advice. 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 403 

They stopped at the door of the fruit store, and 
the Rosier was left at his mother's house. She 
had not yet come home. Having been invited by 
her family to celebrate her son's triumph, she had 
taken luncheon with her sister after following the 
procession as far as the banqueting-tent. 

So Isidore remained alone in the store, which 
was growing dark. He sat down on a chair, excited 
by the wine and by pride, and looked about him. 
Carrots, cabbages, and onions gave out their strong 
odor in the closed room, that coarse smell of the 
garden, blended with the sweet, penetrating odor 
of strawberries and the delicate, evanescent fra- 
grance of a basket of peaches. 

The Rosier took one of these and ate it, although 
he was as full as an egg. Then, all at once, wild 
with joy, he began to dance about the store, and 
something rattled in his waistcoat. 

Surprised, he put his hand into his pocket and 
brought out the purse containing the five hundred 
francs which in his agitation he had forgotten. Five 
hundred francs ! What a fortune ! He poured the 
gold pieces out on the counter and spread them 
out with his big hand witli a slow, caressing touch, 
so as to see them all at the same time. There were 
twenty-five, twenty-five round gold pieces, all gold! 
They glistened on the wood in the dim light, and 
he counted them over and over, one by one. Then 
he put them back into the purse, which he replaced 
in his pocket. 



404 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

Who will ever know, or who can tell, what a 
terrible conflict took place in the soul of the Rosier 
between good and evil, the tumultuous attack of 
Satan, his artifices, the temptations that he offered 
to this timid virgin heart ? What suggestions, what 
imaginations, what desires were not invented by the 
evil one to excite and destroy this chosen one ? He 
seized his hat, Madame Husson's saint, his hat, 
which still bore the little bunch of orange blossoms, 
went out through the alley at the back of the house, 
and disappeared in the darkness. 

Virginie, the fruiterer, on learning that her son 
had returned, went home at once, and found the 
house empty. She waited, without thinking any- 
thing about it at first; but after a quarter of an 
hour she made inquiries. The neighbors had seen 
Isidore come home and had not seen him go out 
again. They began to look for him, but could not 
find him. His mother, in alarm, went to the Mayor. 
The Mayor knew nothing, except that he had left 
him at the door of his home. Madame Husson had 
just retired when they informed her that her pro- 
tege had disappeared. She immediately put on her 
wig, dressed herself and went to Virginie's house. 
Virginie, whose plebeian soul was readily moved, 
was weeping copiously amid her cabbages, carrots 
and onions. 

They feared some accident had befallen him. 
What could it be ? Commandant Desbarres notified 
the police, who made a circuit of the town, and on 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 405 

the high road to Pontoise they found the httle 
bunch of orange blossoms. This was placed on a 
table round which the authorities were deliberating. 
The Rosier must have been the victim of some 
stratagem, some trick, some jealousy ; but in what 
way? What means had been employed to kidnap 
this innocent creature, and with what object? 

Weary of looking for him without any result, 
Virginie, alone, remained watching and weeping. 

The following evening, when the coach passed by 
on its return from Paris, Gisors learned with as- 
tonishment that its Rosier had stopped the vehicle 
about two hundred metres from the town, had 
climbed up on it and paid his fare, handing over a 
gold piece and receiving the change, and that he 
had quietly alighted in the center of the great city. 

There w-as great excitement all through the coun- 
tryside. Letters between the Mayor and the chief 
of police in Paris brought no result. 

A week passed. 

Now, one morning, Dr. Barbesol, who had gone 
out early, perceived, sitting on a doorstep, a man 
dressed in a grimy linen suit, who was sleeping 
with his head leaning against the wall. He ap- 
proached him and recognized Isidore. He tried to 
rouse him, but did not succeed. The ex-Rosier was 
in that profound, invincible sleep that is alarming, 
and the doctor, in surprise, went to seek assistance 
to carry the young man to Boncheval's drugstore. 
When they lifted him they found an empty bottle 



406 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

under him, and when the doctor sniffed at it, he de- 
clared that it had contained brandy. That gave a 
suggestion as to what treatment he would require. 
They succeeded in rousing him. 

Isidore was drunk — drunk and degraded by a 
week of guzzling; drunk, and so disgusting that a 
ragman would not have touched him. His beautiful 
white duck suit was a gray rag, greasy, muddy, torn, 
and destroyed, and he smelled of the gutter and vice. 

He was washed, sermonized, shut up, and did no^^ 
leave the house for four days. He seemed ashamed 
and repentant. They could not find on him either 
his purse, containing the five hundred francs, o^* 
the bankbook, or even his silver watch, a sacred 
heirloom left by his father, the fruiterer. 

On the fifth day he ventured into the Rue Dau- 
phine. Curious glances followed him, and he walked 
along with a furtive expression in his eyes and his 
head bent down. As he got outside the town toward 
the valley they lost sight of him ; but two hours 
later he returned laughing and rolling against the 
walls. He was drunk, absolutely drunk. 

Nothing could cure him. 

Driven from home by his mother, he became a 
wagon-driver, and drove the charcoal wagons for 
the Pougrisel firm, which is still in existence. 

His reputation as a drunkard became so well 
known and spread so far that even at Evreux they 
talked of Madame Husson's Rosier, and the sots 
of the countryside have received that general name. 

A good deed is never lost. 



MADAME HUSSON'S ROSIER 407 

Dr. Marambot rubbed his hands as he finished 
his story, I asked: 

"Did you know the Rosier?" 

"Yes. I had the honor of closing his eyes." 

"What did he die of?" 

"DeUrium tremens, of course." 

We had arrived at the old citadel, a pile of ruined 
walls dominated by the enormous tower of St. 
Thomas of Canterbury and the one called the Pris- 
oner's Tower. 

Marambot told me the story of this prisoner, 
who, with the aid of a nail, covered the walls of 
his dungeon with sculptures, tracing the reflec- 
tions of the sun as it glanced through the narrow 
slit of a loophole. 

I also learned that Clothaire II had given the 
patrimony of Gisors to his cousin, Saint Romain, 
bishop of Rouen ; that Gisors ceased to be the cap- 
ital of the whole of Vexin after the treaty of Saint- 
Clair-sur-Epte ; that the town is the chief strategic 
center of all that portion of France, and that in 
consequence of this advantage she was taken and 
retaken over and over again. At the command of 
William the Red, the eminent engineer, Robert de 
Bellesme, constructed there a powerful fortress, 
which was attacked later by Louis le Gros, then by 
the Norman barons, was defended by Robert de 
Candos, was finally ceded to Louis le Gros by Geof- 
fry Plantagenet, was retaken by the English in com- 
sequence of the treachery of the Knights Templars, 



408 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

was contested by Philippe-Augustus and Richard 
the Lionhearted, was set on fire by Edward III of 
England, who could not take the castle, was again 
taken by the English in 1419, restored later to 
Charles VIII by Richard de Marbury, was taken 
by the Duke of Calabria, occupied by the League, 
inhabited by Henry IV, etc. 

And Marambot, eager and almost eloquent, con- 
tinued : 

"What beggars, those English! And what sots, 
my boy ; they are all Rosiers, those hypocrites !" 

Then, after a silence, stretching out his arm 
toward the tiny river that glistened in the meadows, 
he said : 

"Did you know that Henry Monnier was one of 
the most untiring fishermen on the banks of the 
Epte?" 

"No, I did not know it."' 

"And Boufife was a painter on glass." 

"You are joking!" 

"No, indeed. How is it you do not know these 
things ?" 



AN UNFORTUNATE RESEMBLANCE 

IT was on the night of the first of January at 
Montonirail's — the refined painter of curved 
poses, of bright draperies, of Parisian prettiness. 
During one of those sudden changes of the electric 
light, which at one time throws rays of exquisite 
pale pink, at another of liquid gold, as if it had 
been filtered through the golden hair of a woman, 
and at another of a bluish hue with varied tints, 
such as the sky assumes at twilight, in which the 
women with their bare shoulders look like living 
flowers — that the tall Pescarelle, whom some per- 
sons called "Pussy," though I do not know why, 
suddenly said in a low voice : 

''Well, people were not altogether mistaken — in 
fact, were only half wrong — when they coupled my 
name with that of pretty Lucy Plonelle. She had 
captivated my heart, just as a bird-catcher on a 
frosty morning catches an imprudent wren on a 
limed twig, and she might have done whatever she 
liked with me. 

*I was under the charm of her enigmatical and 

409 



410 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

mocking smile, when her teeth had a cruel look 
between her red Hps, and gleamed as if they were 
ready to bite and to heighten by pain the pleas- 
ure of the most delightful and voluptuous kiss. 

"I loved everything about her, her feline supple- 
ness, her slow glance, which seemed to glide from 
under her half-closed lids, full of promises and 
temptation, her somewhat extreme elegance, and her 
hands — her long, delicate, white hands, with blue 
veins, like the bloodless hands of a female saint 
in a stain-glass window, and her slender fingers, 
on which glittered only the large blood-drop of 
ruby. 

"I would have given her all my remaining youth 
and vigor to have laid my burning hands on the 
nape of her cool, round neck, and to feel that bright, 
silky, golden hair enveloping me and caressing my 
skin. I never was tired of hearing her disdainful, 
petulant voice, those vibrations which sounded as 
if they were struck from clear glass, and that music, 
which at times became hoarse, harsh, and fierce, 
like the loud, sonorous calls of the Valkyries. 

"Oh, heavens! to be her lover, to be her chattel, 
to belong to her, to devote one's whole existence to 
her, to spend one's last penny and to sink in misery, 
only to have the glory, the happiness of possessing 
the splendid beauty, the sweetness of her kisses, the 
pink and the white of her body with its demon-like 
soul all to myself, were it only for a few months ! 

"It makes you laugh, I know, to think that I 



AN UNFORTUNATE RESEMBLANCE 411 

should have been caught like that, I who give such 
good, prudent advice to my friends, who fear love 
as I do those quicksands and shoals that appear 
at low tide, in which one is swallowed up and dis- 
appears ! 

"But who can answer for himself, who can de- 
fend himself against such a danger, against the 
magnetic attraction that comes from such a woman ? 
Nevertheless, I was cured and perfectly cured, and 
that quite accidentally, and this is how the en- 
chantment, apparently so complete, was broken. 

"On the first night of a play I was standing near 
Lucy, whose mother had accompanied her, as usual, 
and they occupied the front seats of a box. From 
some irresistible attraction I never ceased looking 
at the woman whom I loved with all the strength 
of my being. I feasted my eyes on her beauty, I 
saw nobody except her in the theater, and did not 
listen to the piece being performed on the stage. 

"Suddenly, however, I felt as if I had received 
a blow from a dagger in my heart, and I had an in- 
sane hallucination. Lucy had moved, and her pretty 
head was in profile in the same attitude and with 
the same lines as that of her mother. I do not 
know what shadow or what play of light had har- 
dened and altered the color of her delicate features 
and destroyed their ideal prettiness, but the more 
I looked at them both, the one who was young and 
the one who was old, the greater that distressing 
resemblance became. 



412 GUY DE MAUPASSANT 

"I saw Lucy growing older and older, striving 
against those accumulating years that bring wrin- 
kles in the face, produce a double chin and crow's- 
feet, and spoil the mouth. They looked almost like 
twins. 

"I suffered so that I almost thought I should 
go mad, and, in spite of myself, instead of shaking 
off this feeling and making my escape out of the 
theater, into the noise and life on the boulevards, 
I persisted in looking at the mother, at the old 
lady, in scanning her face, in judging her, in dis- 
secting her with my eyes; I got excited over her 
flabby cheeks, over those ridiculous dimples that 
were half filled up, over that treble chin, that hair 
which must have been dyed, those eyes which had 
no more brightness in them, and that nose which 
was a caricature of Lucy's beautiful, attractive little 
feature. 

"I had prescience of the future. I loved Lucy, 
and I should love her more and more every day, that 
little sorceress who had so despotically and so 
quickly conquered me. I should not allow any par- 
ticipation or any intrigue from the day she gave 
herself to me, and when once we had been so in- 
timately connected who could tell whether, just as I 
was defending myself against it most, the legitimate 
termination, marriage, might not come? 

"Why not give one's name to a woman whom 
one loves, and of whom one is sure? The reason 
was that in time I should be tied to a disfigured. 



AN UNFORTUNATE RESEMBLANCE 413 

ugly creature with whom I should not venture to 
be seen in public, as my friends would leer at her 
with laughter in their eyes and with pity in their 
hearts for the man who was accompanying those 
remains. 

"And so, as soon as the curtain had fallen, with- 
out saying good-by or good evening, I had myself 
driven to the Moulin Rouge, and there I picked up 
the first woman I came across, an alluring, impu- 
dent creature, and remained in her company until 
other memories departed." 

"Well," Florise d'Anglet exclaimed, "I shall 
never take mamma to the theater with me again." 



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